The World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”) will reassess its stance on whether marijuana should remain on the prohibited list. This comes after the incident where American runner Sha’Carri Richardson was forced to pull out of the Tokyo Olympic Games. During the U.S. Olympic Trials, Richardson’s 100 meters win was cut short after it was revealed that she had tested positive for cannabis. This led to her disqualification; she was also banned from competing for 30 days.
Whether cannabis has a positive effect on an athlete is being challenged by the German Institute for Biochemistry. According to the institute, cannabis does not improve an athlete’s performance; however, its use could lead to further risky behavior within certain sports.
WADA said that the executive committee supported the resolutions from the List Expert Advisory Group to conduct a scientific review on cannabis this year. This was after a number of stakeholders issued requests to review the status of cannabis on the list. However, the body clarified that cannabis is still prohibited in competitions held this year.
Dr Peter Brukner, a researcher as well as a sports physician, has spent the last year studying medical cannabis. He said that there is no evidence that marijuana enhances the performance of an athlete; in fact, he says, it is “performance limiting.” Brukner believes the reason why the substance is banned is because of the legality issues surrounding it. This year, the doctor will be conducting clinical trials at La Trobe University to see whether medical cannabis is effective for pain relief and can be incorporated into the treatment for athletes.
At this year’s Winter Olympics, Kamila Valieva, a figure skater representing Russia, tested positive for the heart drug trimetazidine and was still allowed to compete in the Beijing games. The 15-year-old won gold in the team competition, and Sha’Carri Richardson questioned the double standard as to Valieva was still allowed to compete despite having a doping charge.
During the ruling, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said that Valieva was not cleared, which means that there is a possibility that her awards could be stripped and that her submission to different rules is because she was judged as a minor and not an adult athlete.
Other leagues have recently been revising their policies on marijuana use. On Feb. 1, 2022, the NFL issued a $1 million research grant to look into marijuana’s effectiveness in pain management. Last year, the NBA stopped subjecting its players to THC tests and stated that it would only intervene in cases where there was a present history of abuse. In 2019, the MLB removed marijuana from its list of banned substances but will continue to prohibit its players from getting into contracts with cannabis businesses such as Cannabis Strategic Ventures Inc. (OTC: NUGS) regardless of their legality in the jurisdictions where they operate.
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