Olympic snowboarder settles suit over TV character

Fri Apr 25, 2008 2:41pm EDT
 
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Olympic gold-medal-winning snowboarder Ross Rebagliati has settled a lawsuit over a television series that he had accused of defaming him.

The Canadian snowboarder reached the out-of-court settlement with CTV Television network and producers of the series, "Whistler," according a statement released by his spokesman on Friday.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Rebagliati said he was defamed by a character in the syndicated series named Beck MacKaye, who was portrayed as a former Olympic snowboarder and resident at the Whistler, British Columbia, ski resort whose death was linked to alcoholism, womanizing and blackmail.

Rebagliati, who lived in Whistler when he won the gold medal at the Nagano Winter Games in 1998, alleged the "reprehensible" character was so similar physically and in sports history that people thought the character was modeled on him, or created by him.

"I am glad I was able to get my message out, as I have worked very hard on my image since returning home from Nagano," Rebagliati said in the statement.

The show's producers had denied there was any link between Rebagliati and the MacKaye character.

Rebagliati's gold medal in the 1998 Games, the first awarded in an Olympics for snowboarding, was initially stripped when he tested positive for marijuana. It was then returned to him because the drug was not then a banned Olympic substance.

Rebagliati denied smoking marijuana, but said he may have inhaled it as second hand smoke at a pre-Olympics party in Whistler.

Whistler will host Alpine events during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

(Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing by Peter Galloway)

 
<p>Ross Rebagliati, 1998 gold medal winner in snowboarding at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan shows off the new Canadian team summer Olympic uniforms in Vancouver British Columbia May 18, 2004. REUTERS/Lyle Stafford</p>