After announcing that it would organise a scientific review of the status of cannabis a little over a year ago, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has ruled to keep marijuana on its list of banned substances.
WADA’s move to review THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis, followed massive calls from athletes and celebrities for marijuana to be removed from the list after American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson’s suspension in 2021.
Richardson tested positive for the substance ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, and both her victory in the US Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, and the corresponding position in the 100-meter race in Tokyo were nullified. Richardson said that she had used marijuana to cope with the recent death of her mother but was given a one-month suspension.
While speaking about the positive test on NBC’s Today show, Richardson said, “I know I can’t hide myself, so in some type of way, I was trying to hide my pain.”
On Friday, WADA announced that it would not change marijuana’s status on the list of restricted substances, keeping it banned at sports events. Reports state that WADA-appointed experts consulted with athletes who used cannabis, and one of the conclusions drawn was that the substance was “against the spirit of sport.” While athletes will not be penalised if they test positive for THC in training, a positive test at races and events can still lead to a one-month ban.
While speaking on Friday, WADA director general Olivier Niggli stated that requests for THC to be removed were not supported by the experts’ thorough review.
“WADA is also mindful that the few requests for THC’s removal from the prohibited list are not supported by the experts’ thorough review,” Niggli said. “We are also conscious that the laws of many countries, as well as broad international regulatory laws and policies, support maintaining cannabis on the list at this time.”
The agency added that the high threshold level to register a positive test for THC was “consistent with a significantly impaired athlete or a frequent user.”
WADA has also announced that the opiate Tramadol will be banned starting January 2024. A synthetic painkiller, Tramadol’s side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, and loss of attention.
Watch Sha’Carri Richardson’s reaction to the positive THC test in 2021 interview below.