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Anthony Ruffo pleads no contest

Ruffo was in court today in Santa Cruz where he entered a "no contest" plea for selling meth. Thomas Hill/The Go Big Project

Today in Santa Cruz Superior Court, former professional surfer Anthony Ruffo entered a no contest plea to the charge of distributing methamphetamines with a prior conviction. Stemming from a July 10, 2010 arrest, his admission of guilt could land him up to five years in prison.

"It's a relief to have this day behind me," said Ruffo today after the court proceedings had ended. "I'm ready for whatever the next chapter is, ready to move on."

Now subject to a probation report that will ultimately decide the punishment Ruffo receives, sentencing will take place on Feb. 21, 2012.

"I think what he's ultimately looking at is a split sentence: one year in jail and three years probation," said Ruffo's attorney Ben Rice today. "With the restructuring in California's prison and jail system, he may not actually have to spend any time in jail and would be monitored by an ankle bracelet."

Originally making a name for himself as one of Santa Cruz's cutting edge West Side surfers, Ruffo gained surfing notoriety for both his competitive prowess at the Cold Water Classic and helping to pioneer Northern California big waves like Maverick's and Ghost Tree. His troubles with the law go back to a 1998 marijuana bust, and since the drug-related death of three-time world champion Andy Irons on Nov. 3, 2010, Ruffo's story has garnered mainstream attention, becoming a cautionary tale. In the past year Ruffo's story has appeared in the New York Times, on Bryant Gumble's "Real Sports" on HBO, and "Ruffo," a documentary about his life which is being narrated by X Games host Sal Masekela, is set for release at film festivals in 2012.

"There are always going to be haters out there, people that don't think you can change," said Ruffo today. "I've been clean for a year now, and in that time I've just been trying to help people kick this horrible thing called meth. It ruins lives, and I've been going into juvenile halls and holding meetings and stuff here in Santa Cruz trying to tell people that it can really destroy you. It could have been worse for me, this is my second chance."

When asked if he felt that coming forth with his story and being open and honest about his drug dealing past may have had anything to do with the ASP's recent decision to implement a stronger drug policy Ruffo succinctly said, "I hope so, nobody wants this."