Legalization | 09.13.2022

World Anti-Doping Agency Keeps Cannabis On The Prohibited Substance List For 2023

Even after debates about Sha'Carri Richardson and the increasingly legal status of cannabis worldwide, WADA still isn't backing down.

It looks like athletes will have to continue avoiding cannabis before and during the span of their competitions.

Recent news releases from The World AntiDoping Agency (WADA) stated that it’s looking to keep cannabis on its list of prohibited substances for 2023.

The news comes on the heels of continuous debates over American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, who was suspended from her competition last year due to a positive test for THC, the primary cannabinoid in cannabis.

THC Drug Tests For Athletes

With no changes to the upcoming list of banned substances, that means athletes will still have to follow protocol and take a drug test for THC. If the test is positive, they will be suspended from their competitions.

Oddly enough, it was just last year after Richardson’s suspension that WADA agreed to review whether cannabis should be prohibited or not.

Its decision to reconsider stems from the many vocal politicians, leaders, and celebrities who’ve spoken out about Richardson’s case, where she was suspended from her 100-meter sprint at the Tokyo Games.

Furthermore, WADA also heard complaints from the same people about the archaic outlook on cannabis, which is legal to some degree in most American states. Not only that, but it’s legal for recreational and/or medical use in various countries worldwide.

There's Hope For Change

All that said, WADA did announce that its list of 2023 prohibited substances is still under review, and changes could be made before the deadline on September 23.

Still, WADA’s Prohibited List Expert Advisory Group is advocating for cannabis to stay on the banned list simply because it aligns with the criteria for a prohibited substance.

Well…does it meet the criteria? Here’s what WADA considers when creating its Prohibited List. A banned substance has to meet two or more of the following:

  • It has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance
  • It represents an actual or potential health risk to the athlete
  • It violates the spirit of sport

A WADA spokesperson said the following in a statement:

“WADA’s Executive Committee will be asked to approve the final version of the List during its September 23 meeting, with the List itself being published on or before October 1 and coming into force on January 1.”

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