American halfpipe bronze medalist Scotty Lago volunteered to leave the Olympics on Friday after risque pictures of him showed up on the Internet.
Lago, who was awarded his bronze medal Thursday night, was at a party, wearing a Team USA T-shirt when somebody snapped a photo of a woman kneeling below Lago’s waist to kiss his medal. That picture, and another showing him sticking the medal in the woman’s mouth while teammate Greg Bretz looks on, appeared Friday on the TMZ Web site.
Lago apologized to officials at the U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and decided to go home.
“Scotty Lago is a great athlete, but with that comes a responsibility of proper conduct, and his involvement in this situation is not acceptable,” U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Bill Marolt said in an e-mail. “Scotty realizes his conduct was inappropriate. He has formally apologized and also made a decision to leave Vancouver today.”
In the aftermath of several out-of-competition incidents in Turin, one of which resulted in the dismissal of freestyle skier Jeret Peterson, the USOC has made extra efforts to emphasize athletes be on their best behavior when they’re at the Olympics.
Before the Beijing Games, the USOC began its “Ambassador Program” that athletes are made to complete before they travel to the games.
Lago was a member of a group of snowboarders called the “Frends,” that included Kevin Pearce and Danny Davis, both of whom were badly injured before the Olympics and couldn’t make the trip.
“I put all that aside and rode,” Lago said.
He said he put together one of the best runs of his life to win the surprise bronze on a night overshadowed by Shaun White and his gold-medal performance.