Sports Cannabis News

WADA’s Slow Roll Continues

Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, THC will remain on the banned substance list.

Earlier today, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Executive Committee approved the 2023 Prohibited list that includes Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, THC for international athletes, determining that cannabis use “violates the spirit of sport”.  

The review was submitted to the Executive Committee by the LiEAG (List Expert Advisory Group) which followed three criteria guidelines established by the Code (the core document that harmonizes anti-doping policies, rules and regulations within sports organizations and among public authorities around the world). As per code guidelines, a substance must meet at least two of the criteria to be considered included on the List ;

  1. It has the potential to enhance sport performance
  2. It represents a health risk to the athlete;
  3. It violates the spirit of sports (as defined by the Code)

In late 2021 the Sports Cannabis community witnessed USA track icon, Sha’Carri Richardson receive a suspension for one month from the Olympic team for testing positive for THC.  Subsequently, Richardson’s Olympic results were disqualified and she was not allowed to participate in the 100m race at the Tokyo Olympics.   This was not the first time an athlete had been penalized for Cannabis, Canadian professional snowboarder, Ross Rebagliati tested positive for Cannabis after winning Gold at the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998.

Despite testimonials from athletes who were/are actively using cannabis, reviews of published surveys from around the world, scientific research, and relevant medical publications shared, LiEAG found that cannabis met two of the three criteria.  It’s important to note that LiEAG also consulted with WADA’s Ethics Expert Advisory Group for the review, which still views Cannabis use as a violation of “Spirit of Sports”. WADA Director General Oliver Niggli released the following statement in a press release;

“WADA plans to continue research in this area in relation with THC’s potential performance enhancing effects, its impact on the health of athletes and also in relation to perceptions of cannabis from athletes, experts and others around the world.”

-WADA Director General, Oliver Niggli

Updated Guidelines :

Under the new guidelines Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, THC will be prohibited in competition only and when the urinary concentration exceeds a threshold of 150ng/ml.  Finding anything above the outlined levels would deem an athlete “significantly impaired” or a “frequent user”.  In addition, the suspension time has been reduced substantially, from potentially two-four years to one month for athletes that can establish that cannabis/THC use occurred out of competition and was unrelated to sports performance.

Despite the world shifting, professional sporting leagues adopting new policies and pledging funds toward the research of cannabis, WADA remains a slow adopter of the plant.

%d bloggers like this: