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Nick Delpopolo of the United States gives a thumbs up after defeating Dirk van Tichelt of Belgium to advance to the men's 73kg judo quarterfinals at the London 2012 Olympic Games Monday, July 30, 2012. (Karl Mondon/Contra Costa Times)

LONDON - In the annals of Olympic drug cases, the one involving judoka Nick Delpopolo is more Ross Rebagliati than Ben Johnson.

The International Olympic Committee kicked Delpopolo, 23, of Westfield, N.J., out of the London Games on Monday after he tested positive for marijuana.

In 1988, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson lost his gold medal in the 100 meters for testing positive for anabolic steroids. Ten years later snowboarder Rebagliati got his gold medal back after arguing his marijuana positive was the result of second-hand smoke. Oh, and the fact weed wasn't on the IOC banned drug list at the time.

Delpopolo, 23, didn't go for the second-hand smoke excuse.

"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," he said in a statement.

He didn't elaborate on what special dish called for marijuana.

U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky added in a statement, "Any positive test, for any banned substance, comes with the appropriate consequences and we absolutely support the disqualification."

Delpopolo finished seventh in the 73-kilogram category in judo last week. He had his Olympic identity card immediately cancelled and became persona non grata around Olympic Park.


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It is a sad end for an athlete who had one of the more compelling stories before the London Games. Delpopolo lived in an orphanage in Montenegro for the first 21 months of his life. He described it as a dilapidated building with dirt floors.

He was adopted by a couple from New Jersey and started doing martial arts at age 6. He rose to No. 1 in the United States ahead of the London Games.