U.S. Anti-Doping Agency states that international approach to cannabis in sports “must change”

12th July 2021

Following intense scrutiny of both US and international anti-doping regulations in recent weeks, the top US sports regulator has stated that cannabis policy in sports “must change”.

Following the high-profile case of Sha’Carri Richardson, who was disqualified from Team USA’s women’s 100-metre event at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics for cannabis use, a large number of supporters spoke out against current anti-doping regulations prohibiting the use of cannabis products.

Supporters included fellow athletes and celebrities as well as state and federal politicians who stressed the non-sensical approach of anti-doping regulators to cannabis.

The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) stated in its response letter to members of Congress, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD): “The US Anti-Doping Agency agrees that Ms. Richardson’s exclusion from the Tokyo Olympic games is a heartbreaking situation and that the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) rules concerning marijuana must change.”

“USADA does not make or have a direct vote on the anti-doping rules but, as a WADA Code signatory, we are required to enforce them. During the Stakeholder comment phase of the rule-making process, USADA has advocated for more flexible and fair rules to address the use of marijuana by athletes.”

Furthermore, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) last week announced that it is working to secure a meeting with the WADA regarding its approach to cannabis on the international sports stage.

According to the Financial Times, the Biden administration will aim to discuss issues “including the timeframe for testing, and the basis for the consideration of cannabis as a performance-enhancing drug.”

Cannabis has now been legalised for medical use in over 30 states in the US, with 19 states and D.C. also allowing recreational use. Furthermore, recent years have seen increased calls pushing for cannabis decriminalisation, and even legalisation, at the federal level.

Sha’Carri Richardson tested positive for cannabis use at the Olympic trials in Oregon, after having come first in the 100-metre event to qualify for the Tokyo games. It was announced that Richardson’s record time would be disqualified, and the athlete would face a 30-day ban from competition.

Ms. Richardson had consumed cannabis in a cannabis-legal state after learning about the death of her biological mother.

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