Could international guidelines change to allow cannabis in sports?

15th September 2021

After the controversial decision to disqualify an American sprinter from Team USA’s track team at the Tokyo Olympics for cannabis use, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is set to review its cannabis policy.

According to AFP, apparently, Sha’Carri Richardson’s case has prompted officials at WADA to review the status of cannabis on its banned substances list.

Just weeks before the games started, Richardson failed a drug test when a urine sample was tested positive for THC, resulting in her qualifying time for the 100m event being scrapped. She was replaced for the event by fourth-place qualifier Jenna Prandini.

The decision triggered a massive debate on drug liberalisation and even some celebrities, U.S. Congressmen, and NFL and NBA stars offered their support for Richardson – especially when she announced she had used cannabis to mitigate the pressure she felt for qualifying for the Olympic games.

Also, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has called WADA to change its policy and urged them to introduce “more flexible and fair rules to address the use of marijuana by athletes.”

And according to recent reports, the World Anti-Doping Agency was listening.

Reportedly, following a recent meeting of WADA’s executive committee, the global anti-doping watchdog said a scientific review of cannabis would be conducted next year – although the drug would remain banned in 2022.

In a statement, WADA said: “Following receipt of requests from a number of stakeholders, the (executive committee) endorsed the decision of the List Expert Advisory Group to initiate in 2022 a scientific review of the status of cannabis.

“Cannabis is currently prohibited in competition and will continue to be in 2022.”

Right now, cannabis is still a banned substance in most sports, despite the ongoing easing of cannabis prohibition and a lack of evidence that it is a performance-enhancing drug.

The drug was classified as a “substance of abuse” by the World Anti-Doping Agency since January this year.

A failed drugs test usually carries a ban of up to four years, however, this may be reduced to three months if the athlete in question is able to prove that the drugs consumed did not enhance their performance in their sport.

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