World Anti-Doping Agency to Review Cannabis Ban Status for Athletes

Doping in sport has been around for decades and as technological innovations in training, recovery and even footwear continue to push performance to new heights, marginal gains make the difference between successful and successful athletes. who fail at the finish line. Just recently we saw Britain’s Olympic 4x100m silver team stripped of its medal following a second positive drug test for sprinter, CJ Ujah. But if doping is inexcusable at all levels of sport, some substance bans have continued to be challenged, namely that of cannabis.

When American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson stunned audiences with a meteoric run in the 100m race at the U.S. Olympic Trials, audiences were devastated to hear that her performance later was nothing. Hours later, Richardson failed a drug test due to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) ban on cannabis and, as a result, was barred from participating in the Tokyo Olympics. “I didn’t think the evidence base for marijuana would be particularly strong,” Dr Michael Joyner of the Mayo Clinic told NPR in July. “But looking at the papers yesterday, I was surprised how weak it is.”

For a substance to be included in the list of prohibited substances, it must tick at least two of these three boxes: improving performance, creating a health risk and going against the “spirit” of sport. WADA argued that cannabis is a performance enhancing drug and a health risk, based on a 2011 study which stated that “cannabis causes euphoria, improves self-confidence, induces relaxation and stability, and relieves the stress of competition. The study also claimed that athletes who smoke cannabis in competition could “endanger themselves and others due to increased risk-taking, slower reaction times and poor executive function. of decision-making “.

But as many quickly noted, such a position is now outdated. As Jordan Tishler, MD, a former emergency physician and cannabis specialist at Inhale MD in Boston, told Runners World in an interview, “If anything, marijuana is a performance degrading drug… Peak performance – maximum strength, maximum speed, maximum VO2 max – probably won’t happen if you use cannabis.”

Richardson was hit with a 30-day suspension after testing positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, but support for the track star came quickly. Given that a number of states in the United States have legalized marijuana to some extent, many have found the decision catastrophic, as many have questioned why marijuana would even be considered a performance enhancing drug. Now a WADA advisory group will consider whether cannabis should remain a banned substance. Scheduled to launch next year, the review will examine the status of cannabis which is currently banned in competition and will continue to be banned in 2022.

After testing positive for marijuana, Richardson quickly apologized on the NBC Today show. She said: “As much as I am disappointed, I know that when I get on the track, I don’t just represent myself, I represent a community that has shown great support, great love… I apologize for not representing myself. not have done it. know how to control my emotions or manage my emotions during this time.

She added, “We all have our different struggles, we all have our different things to deal with, but to put on a face and have to come out in front of the world and put on a face and hide my pain.” Richardson said, “Who are you? Who am I to tell you how to deal with a pain or a struggle that you have never experienced before or that you never thought you had too much to do. Who am I to tell you how to cope? Who am I to tell you that you are wrong to hurt?

The US Anti-Doping Agency said in a press release following Richardson’s suspension: “Richardson’s period of suspension was reduced to one month because his cannabis use occurred out of competition and was not not related to athletic performance, and because she has successfully completed a counseling program regarding her cannabis use.

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