Published February 20, 2010
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Gone from the Olympics after risque photos of him appeared on the Internet, bronze-medal snowboarder Scotty Lago joked with his Twitter followers Saturday that he's home, and keeping the medal in a safe spot, for now.
"Got home this morning to all my homies," he said on his Twitter site. "Such a good Olympic experience. Keeping my medal in a safe spot for now haha."
Lago was at a party Thursday night, wearing a Team USA T-shirt, when someone snapped a photo of a woman kneeling below his waist to kiss the medal. He made the decision to go home shortly after the picture turned up on the TMZ Web site Friday.
U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun and chairman Larry Probst said Lago's decision to go home came before the federation had a chance to react to the situation.
"He put the code of conduct on himself, decided the correct thing was to go home," Blackmun said.
Added Probst: "He made that call, and it was the right decision."
In the wake of incidents of bad behavior at the Turin Games, including the ouster of freestyle skier Jeret Peterson after he got into a small fight with a friend, the USOC redoubled its efforts to make sure athletes are on their best behavior while at the Olympics.
The federation began its "Ambassador Program," which teaches athletes about the customs of the country they're visiting and some of the common pitfalls they can run into both with media and when they're out enjoying the city.
Web sites such as TMZ have added to the laundry list of things that can go wrong — as Lago discovered after receiving his medal in downtown Vancouver on Thursday night.
Lago won one of 16 medals that have been captured by athletes under the umbrella of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, which is enjoying a remarkably successful games.
"Scotty Lago is a great athlete, but with that comes a responsibility of proper conduct, and his involvement in this situation is not acceptable," USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt said in an e-mail sent late Friday.