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Lund launches head-first into reviving his Olympic dream

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Zach Lund is hoping to make up for his Winter Olympic nightmare from 2006
  • American was kicked out of athletes' village after testing positive for finasteride
  • It was part of the hair-growth stimulant that he was using at the time
  • The substance has since been taken off the banned list of drugs

(CNN) -- Zach Lund has given up waiting for an apology from Olympic officials, and the American skeleton racer is hoping to finally fulfil his dream at the Winter Games in Vancouver.

Four years ago he was kicked out of the athletes' village in Turin, Italy, after testing positive for finasteride -- a substance that was banned as anti-doping agencies believed it masked the presence of steroids.

But it is also present in Propecia, a hair-growth stimulant that Lund was using to combat baldness.

He was given a one-year suspension from competition after a court appeal failed, and then two years later the World Anti-Doping Agency delivered a hammer blow by removing it from its list of banned substances.

Video: A dream deferred

"I knew the whole time that I wasn't a cheater," the 30-year-old from Salt Lake City told CNN.

"I knew that I was an honest athlete, my family knew it and my friends knew it. Most of the people around me knew that I wouldn't take steroids or anything like that."

While he is ready to make a fresh start, having even shaved his head, the amateur pilot who is training to be an airborne firefighter is still aggrieved at his treatment.

"I paid my sentence, I did my time. And now that it's legal again and they're like, 'Oh yeah we made a mistake' -- they're not held accountable and I didn't get a 'Sorry.' I don't even get acknowledgement, and that's hard."

His sporting colleagues rallied around him as he sought to re-establish his career.

I fought really hard to clear my name. The competition was second after that. What's your name worth?
--Zach Lund
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"He was obviously devastated at not being able to compete, but it was really frustrating because of the misinformation that he had had," Noelle Pikus-Pace told CNN.

Fellow U.S. women's skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender added: "We all tried to help and support him, and get it known out there that he was not a cheater, he did not do steroids."

While Lund is determined to do well when the skeleton program begins at the Whistler Sliding Center on Thursday, he said the main thing was showing he was not a cheat.

"Everyone's like, 'You've fought really hard to compete in the Olympics,' but I say, 'No, I fought really hard to clear my name.' The competition was second after that. What's your name worth?"

Lund, who won the 2007 World Cup title after returning from his ban, is one of five U.S. athletes competing in the skeleton along with fellow men's entrants Eric Bernotas and John Daly.

He admits that it has been hard to rebound, even given the obvious thrills of a sport which entails launching yourself head-first down an ice track on a small board with no steering or braking mechanism.

It's the first time in my life I've ever felt depression," Lund said. "I've never understood what it was until after I was kicked out of the Olympics and my dream was taken away from me by a technicality.

"I've struggled even to this day with trying to get a good attitude and to deal with it."