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News, Research

World Anti-Doping Agency to Examine Ban on Athlete Cannabis Use

Gary Miller

by Gary Miller

September 15, 2021 03:08 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 2 Minutes

Following the controversy of Sha’Carri Richardson’s disqualification from the Tokyo Olympic Games due to testing positive for cannabis, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has announced that it will review the ban on cannabis use for athletes.

Established in 1999, WADA is an international independent agency that conducts research on substance use in sports and monitors the code that harmonizes anti-doping policies in sports across the world. According to a recent statement, the WADA executive committee approved a review on the status of cannabis in sports after receiving concerns from numerous stakeholders.

A 2011 paper published by WADA outlined multiple reasons for the ban on athlete cannabis use, including potential danger due to “increased risk-taking, slower reaction times and poor executive function or decision making.” Additionally, the paper expressed concern that cannabis could function as a performance-enhancing drug.

Richardson’s widely publicized suspension from the Olympics, despite her domination at the trials, sparked a wider discussion around the world about substance restrictions for athletes. Besides the fact that cannabis is legal in many U.S. states, including the state of Oregon where trials were held, the Mayo Clinic has found little to no evidence supporting cannabis’ performance-enhancing qualities.

WADA’s Prohibited List Expert Advisory Group will initiate the review of cannabis in 2022, but the agency has made it clear that all forms of cannabis besides CBD will remain banned through the 2022 season.

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