Judo Star Blames Pot Brownies for Failed Drug Test

By Tony O'Neill 08/06/12

A US Olympic martial artist faces severe consequences after traces of marijuana are found in his system.

"I am embarrassed by this mistake." Photo via

You’d think things couldn’t get any worse for US Olympic Judo hope Nicholas Delpopolo, after he was beaten out of bronze medal by Mongolia's Nyam-Ochir Sainjargal in the repechage stage. You’d be wrong: the 23-year-old from Westfield, New Jersey, has now been disqualified after failing a drugs test. He was tested on July 30 after his near miss; the International Olympic Committee claims he tested positive for the snappily-named 11-nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid—which is connected to cannabis consumption. As a result Delpopolo may have his seventh-place finish rescinded. He may also have to return his diploma for competing in the Games and have his accreditation withdrawn. The International Judo Federation has been instructed to modify its results and, ominously, to "consider any further action within its own competence." 

It's not the first weed controversy to plague the US Olympic team. Women’s wrestling hopeful Stephany Lee was suspended on June 28 after testing positive for marijuana, resulting in the US team having to send its second-ranked wrestler to the games. Lee later appeared on National Cannabis radio where host Russ Belville mused, “Stephany Lee proved she was the best, because she beat the best; so why is it that we’re punishing her for choosing to use a substance that is safer than alcohol?” Delpopolo released a statement of his own following today's announcement. It seems the culprit was pot brownies: "My positive test was caused by my inadvertent consumption of food that I did not realize had been baked with marijuana, before I left for the Olympic Games. I apologize to US Olympic Committee, to my teammates, and to my fans, and I am embarrassed by this mistake. I look forward to representing my country in the future, and will re-dedicate myself to being the best judo athlete that I can be." His extensive punishment seems like a great job by the IOC—after all, we all know of the unfair competitive edge that comes from being stoned during a top-level judo bout...
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Tony O'Neill, a regular contributor to The Fix, is the author of several novels, including Digging the VeinDown and Out on Murder Mile and Sick City. He also co-authored the New York Times bestseller Hero of the Underground (with Jason Peter) and the Los Angeles Times bestseller Neon Angel (with Cherie Currie). He lives in New York with his wife and daughter. You can follow Tony on Twitter.