According to a press statement from the World Anti-Doping Agency, the status of cannabis on its banned drugs list will be reviewed on Tuesday. After testing positive for the drug in June, American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was forced to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics.
Cannabis is now illegal in competition, and WADA has said that the prohibition would stay in effect until 2022.
The news comes three months after Sha’Carri Richardson, a prominent American sprinter, tested positive for marijuana at this summer’s Olympic trials, invalidating her first-place result in the 100-meter dash and virtually eliminating her from the Tokyo Olympics.
The scientific evaluation will be started next year by a WADA advisory committee.
While cannabis will remain illegal in 2022, any modifications resulting from the agency’s review will not take effect until 2023. According to the press release, the agency received “requests from a variety of stakeholders.”
International anti-doping regulations prohibit the use of marijuana and other cannabis products having high levels of THC during competition.
Despite the fact that cannabis is not considered to enhance performance, marijuana is categorized as a “substance of abuse” by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), according to a global rule.
Sha’Carri Richardson, a 21-year-old American sprinter who became an overnight sensation after winning the women’s 100-meter event in the US track and field trials in June, was disqualified. Richardson obtained a positive drug test in the days following the trials, indicating that she had a chemical found in marijuana in her system.
In its announcement on Tuesday, WADA did not directly reference Richardson’s case, but it did state that the decision to reassess marijuana’s status on its list of banned drugs was made in response to “requests from a number of stakeholders.”
Richardson claimed she started using the substance after learning from a reporter that her biological mother had died a week before she started Olympic trials in Oregon, where marijuana is allowed.
She had been tipped as a major candidate after winning her 100m test race in 10.86 seconds on June 19th.
The penalty was widely panned, prompting calls for an anti-doping rule revision, including by USADA.
Despite receiving a one-month penalty that would have expired before the Tokyo Olympics, Richardson’s positive drug test nullified her qualifying performance in the trials and destroyed her Olympic hopes, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Marijuana, like conventional performance-enhancing steroids like stanozolol and nandrolone, has long been forbidden by WADA, despite the fact that it is now legal in 18 states, including Oregon, where Richardson claims she consumed the substance earlier this summer.
Richardson’s dismissal triggered a broader debate regarding cannabis’ performance-enhancing capabilities.
The anti-doping agency does not explain why marijuana or any other drug is prohibited, but it does state that it must fulfill two of three criteria:
- It improves or has the ability to improve an athlete’s performance
- It might put athletes’ health at danger
- It “infringes on the spirit of sport”
“Whatever one thinks about recreational drugs, what’s WADA’s business in regulating them, given that we have jurisdictions around the world that have legal frameworks to do exactly that?” Pielke told USA TODAY Sports.
Before word of her failed test surfaced, Richardson, 21, had grown into one of Team USA’s brightest lights, earning a minimum 30-day penalty under WADA’s anti-doping policy. She was unable to compete in Tokyo due to the date and length of her suspension.