WADA Editorial Claims Cannabis Use Violates the “Spirit of Sport”

In a recent editorial published in the journal Addictionthe World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) claims that cannabis use by athletes violates the “spirit of sport.” This decision is particularly odd given that many other nations and organizations have decriminalized or even legalized cannabis for both medical and recreational use.

Furthermore, numerous studies have demonstrated the potential health benefits of using cannabis in place of opioids or other chemical painkillers, meaning that athletes are essentially being punished for making the smarter, safer choice.

The WADA’s decision also raises questions about its commitment to keeping up with times and remaining in step with the rest of the world. Cannabis is increasingly becoming accepted as a safe and effective medicine for treating various ailments, including chronic pain and anxiety. It is viewed by many as a safer alternative to opioids or other chemical painkillers. Punishing athletes for using this plant-based product while continuing to support the use of pharmaceuticals seems deeply hypocritical and only highlights WADA’s outdated stance on cannabis use.

It’s time that WADA caught up with the rest of the world on this issue and realized that their policies directly contradict the ever-changing landscape of cannabis use and regulation.

WADA Reasoning For Keep Cannabis a Prohibited Substance

The question remains as to why WADA continues to keep cannabis on its list of banned substances. To answer this, we must look at the criteria for inclusion set by their ethics committee.

According to the editorial and WADA, For any substance or method to be considered for inclusion in the Prohibited Substances List as per the World Anti-Doping Code, two of the following three equally-important criteria must be met: (1) it enhances or has the potential to enhance sport performance, (2) it represents an actual or potential risk to the health of the athlete and (3) it violates the spirit of the sport as defined in the Code.

According to the criteria, WADA claims that prohibited substances cannot enhance or have the potential to improve sports performance, but then says in the review, “While there may be benefits perceived by some athletes, there were no scientific data to support performance enhancement.”

In regards to the second criterion offered, that cannabis represents an actual or potential risk to the health of the athlete. Have we heard of any cases that claim harm to athletes using cannabis? Some of the greatest athletes of all time used cannabis, and it’s never been shown to have a negative effect on their performance. One example of an athlete using cannabis in the biggest stage of sports comes from Michael Phelps, the greatest swimmer of all time. Cannabis use didn’t affect his health, as he won 28 Olympic medals, 23 of which were gold.

Lastly, the third criteria is that cannabis violates the spirit of sport as defined in the code. This is ludicrous, considering that opioids and other chemical painkillers are allowed in sports, yet cannabis is not. It seems that WADA is punishing athletes for making a safer decision with an all-natural plant.

Below is a list of precisely what WADA claims violates the “spirit of the sport,” which, according to them, is considered as important as the other two criteria.

  • Excellence in performance: this could be undermined by consumption of cannabis during the in-competition period.
  •  Character and education: the role model aspect is not compatible with use of a substance that is still illegal in most parts of the world.
  •  Respect for rules and laws: its use violates the law in most countries in the world, in addition to Anti-Doping Organization rules in some instances.
  •  Respect for self and other participants: the welfare and safety of other participants may be compromised by impaired judgment associated with the presence of cannabis in an athlete in competition.

Does this list insinuate that people who choose to use cannabis medically/recreationally are viewed as bad role models? So an athlete who decides to use natural medicine like cannabis as a pain reliever has less character than an athlete who doesn’t use cannabis? As for respect for rules and laws, what about the respect for the athletes using cannabis legally in their respective regions? Does that not matter? Finally, respect for self and other participants. Has there ever been any record or mention of any athlete being comprised/hurt of “impaired judgment” associated with the presence of cannabis in a competition by another competitor?

It’s clear to see that WADA’s reasoning for keeping cannabis on the Prohibited Substances List is completely flawed and outdated. They need to modernize their policies and catch up with the rest of the world regarding cannabis use in sports. Until they do, athletes will continue to be punished for making a more intelligent, safer choice with plants over pills.

WADA has Made Some Changes

Fortunately, it appears WADA has heard the public outcry and has tweaked its rules for cannabis testing regarding in-competition use. According to the new guidelines, cannabis levels detected in urine samples below 150 ng/ml will no longer be considered a violation.

This is a step in the right direction, as it emphasizes health and safety rather than simply punishing athletes for using plants over pills. That being said, the 150 ng/ml threshold is still relatively high and could lead to unwarranted bans or suspensions if an athlete were to use cannabis out of competition but have residual traces of THC still present in their system during competition.

It’s clear that WADA is still attempting to reconcile its outdated stance on cannabis use with an increasingly changing world. Their new policy of not considering levels below 150ng/ml as a violation shows progress, but improvements can still be made. Until then, athletes should continue to take caution when using cannabis as the rules and regulations surrounding it are still in flux.

Sports World Could Use More Cannabis

As the cannabis reform movement continues to spread throughout the globe, it’s clear that in the sporting world some organizations will need to adapt and reconcile their policies accordingly. It’s time for organizations like WADA to move away from outdated views of cannabis use and to create frameworks that reflect the changing times.

Sports organizations need to recognize the medical benefits of cannabis, and its potential use as a healthier alternative to opioids or other chemical painkillers. They should also understand that cannabis is being increasingly used recreationally in legalized states without any detrimental effects on public safety or health.

It’s time for sports organizations to catch up with the rest of the world and embrace cannabis reform. We’ve already seen organizations like UFC, NFL, MLB and NBA move towards better policies by either removing cannabis from their list of banned substances or lessening punishments for athletes who test positive.

Keep updated on all the latest news and updates in the Cannabis industry here at Beard Bros Pharms by signing up for our Friday Sesh Newsletter here. Always Dank and Never Spam!

One Response

  1. Wow. I though sport and politics should be kept separate in the spirit of the sporting games. This is actually an infraction on human rights.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enjoyed reading our articles?
Share them with your friends!