A former Olympic snowboarder was sentenced this week for smuggling cannabis out of the United States for profit. Japanese Kazuhiro Kokubo, 31, who largely admitted to the allegations against him but denied any intention of making profits, received three years in prison, suspended for four years.
The Court found the 31-year-old conspired with a male acquaintance, already found guilty, to smuggle around 57 grams of a cannabis product in December 2018 from the United States by hiding it using Express Mail Service to Tokyo that arrived at Narita airport.
“He has been using cannabis regularly for more than 10 years, his deep connection with it is notable and we can’t rule out the possibility of him repeating a crime,” Judge Chikako Murata said in handing down the ruling. “It’s regrettable you committed the crime despite boasting such achievements in snowboarding,” Murata said. “I want you to discipline yourself from now.”
The mail with cannabis was detected at customs at Narita International Airport near Tokyo. It was addressed to a place linked to the acquaintance in the city of Musashimurayama, western Tokyo.
Kokubo made his Olympic debut at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy. He also participated in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics in Canada, finishing eighth in the men’s halfpipe event.
At the 2010 Games, he provoked criticism for his style of dress and behavior and was banned from the opening ceremony. The Ski Association of Japan temporarily asked for his withdrawal.
He later served as a technical adviser for Japan’s national snowboard team and performed as a professional snowboarder, reports the Japan Times.