LONDON – U.S. judo athlete Nicholas Delpopolo was expelled from the Olympic Games Monday by the International Olympic Committee after testing positive for marijuana a week after finishing competition here, U.S. officials said.
By Matt Kryger,, USA TODAY Sports
U.S. judo competitor Nicholas Delpopolo was 0-4.
Delpopolo, 23, of Westfield, N.J., said he inadvertently ate baked goods that contained marijuana before he departed for the Olympics last month. U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky said the athlete was sent back to the USA on Monday shortly after being notified of the test result.
His disqualification marks the first in-games doping violation announced by the IOC. Four previous offenses involving Olympic athletes resulted from tests conducted prior to the start of Olympic competition.
“I apologize to the U.S. Olympic Committee, to my teammates and to my fans, and I am embarrassed by this mistake,” Delpopolo said in a written statement. “I look forward to representing my country in the future, and will rededicate myself to being the best judo athlete that I can be.”
Sandusky said the U.S. committee “absolutely” supports the disqualification.
“The (USOC) is absolutely committed to clean competition and stringent anti-doping penalties,” he said. “Any positive test, for any banned substance, comes with the appropriate consequences. … We look forward to witnessing the continued success of our athletes and commend their dedication to clean sport.”
Delpopolo finished competing July 30, losing in the repechage round of the 73-kilogram weight class by yuko to Nyam-Ochir Sainjargal of Mongolia. Delpopolo finished seventh.
While Delpopolo represented the first doping offense resulting from in-games testing, wrestler Stephany Lee was kept off the team before the Olympics after testing positive for tetrahydrocannabinol acid — a marijuana metabolite — in a sample collected April 21 at the Olympic trials in Iowa City.
About half of the 10,500 athletes in London are expected to be tested as part of the largest anti-doping effort in the history of the Olympics, IOC officials said. As of Monday, 3,486 tests had been conducted, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.
In a major shift from a largely random test strategy, IOC officials said testing in London would be driven by intelligence gathered from various sources, inside and outside of Olympic competition.
It was immediately unclear whether Delpopolo’s testing was specifically sought based on information provided to Olympic authorities.