Ross Rebagliati, the Vancouver-born snowboarder who nearly lost his Olympic gold medal in a marijuana controversy in 1998, has come to the defence of Michael Phelps.
The U.S. Olympic swimming champion apologized earlier this week for a photo that shows him smoking pot.
Rebagliati said the public and media need to put the incident in context.
“I think Michael Phelps is an incredibly talented athlete and it’s a shame the media is choosing to focus (on) and scrutinize one photo taken months ago at a private college party. The guy has 14 Olympic medals,” Rebagliati said.
“It would be a different situation if Phelps were smoking a bong at Disneyland in front of children, or promoting it out in public.”
Rebagliati added he hopes the incident does not hurt Phelps’ ability to market his Olympic success through lucrative endorsement deals.
“I guarantee, even with that one bong hit, Phelps is 100 per cent healthier than the average human being,” Rebagliati said.