Marijuana Policy For Pro Athletes Should Be Changed
For international athletes who may decide to use cannabis the rules must change,”. This is what the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) stated as an answer to members of Congress. Which took place this past week following the suspension of runner Sha’Carri Richardson over a positive cannabis test. Independently, the White House is now reportedly attempting to hold a meeting with international sports regulators to review the policy.
Members of congress Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamie Raskin recently sent a letter to the U.S. athletics governing body. This was in regards to the punishment against Richardson. The Olympic runner came forth about using marijuana inside of a legal state after discovering the death of her mother. Earlier this week, USADA expressed compassion for Richardson. As well they indicated that it may be time for a change in the marijuana prohibition. However the latest announcement, in a message to the legislators, explicitly calls for a policy change.
Furthermore, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is working to ensure a meeting with the World Anti-Doping Agency, This would be for cannabis policies on the international sports scene. The Financial Times reported on Friday that the Biden administration intends to discuss issues “including the timeframe for testing, and the basis for the consideration of cannabis as a performance enhancing drug.”
This past week ONDCP tried to brush off the report, with a tweet. Saying that it is not seeking to pressure WADA to “loosen restrictions” or “rethink” cannabis policies for athletes. Yet is merely seeking “additional information” on how those rules are carried out.
What Will Come Next For Cannabis Use And International Athletes
USADA, for its part, said in its letter to Ocasio-Cortez and Raskin, that it “agrees that Ms. Richardson’s exclusion from the Tokyo Olympic Games is a heartbreaking situation and that the World Anti-Doping Agency’s rules concerning marijuana must change.”
However, the organization said it and WADA are “in very different positions of authority and we sometimes have different views when it comes to what substances are included, or not included, on the WADA Prohibited List and what consequences result from a Positive Test.”
“The anti-doping rules are legislated by WADA based on the consensus of Stakeholders worldwide. USADA does not make or have a direct vote on the anti-doping rules but, as a WADA Code Signatory, we are required to enforce them,” it said. “During the Stakeholder comment phase of the rule-making process, USADA has advocated for more flexible and fair rules to address the use of marijuana by athletes.”
“While those rules have indeed become more flexible and fair over time, USADA has argued for still more changes and will continue to advocate for changes going forward. Because USADA is required to enforce the rules as written, however, it has gone to great lengths to ensure that all athletes are informed through our education programs of the risk and potential consequences of a positive marijuana test during competition.”
This depicts the most forceful remarks the nation’s top governing body on international sports has made. Especially following the news brake of Richardson’s suspension. It also shows that USADA has been advocating for a change prior to the high-profile suspension.
It stated that funding could be threatened if the U.S. were to let Richardson compete in violation of rules. A mandate of a 30-day prohibition under the UNESCO Convention Against Doping in Sport.
Final Thoughts On Cannabis Use For Pro Athletes
“Ms. Richardson’s one-month suspension was the absolute minimum sanction that USADA was permitted to impose under the Code. Anything less would have resulted in USADA being non-compliant with the WADA code,” it said. “Continued non-compliance by USADA could result in serious consequences to U.S. Athletes (inability to participate in the Olympics, World Championships and other International Competitions) and the U.S. Government (loss of seats on the WADA Foundation Board and WADA Committees and more importantly the international embarrassment to U.S. athletes that USADA’s noncompliance would cause under the UNESCO Convention and otherwise).”
“Given that Ms. Richardson voluntarily accepted the outcome, there is no longer any legal process to challenge it or to reverse it. Further, any decision by USADA to attempt to reverse Ms. Richardson’s one-month suspension would be futile. WADA, World Athletics or the IOC would have quickly appealed such a decision and may have resulted in a lengthier suspension for Ms. Richardson.”
The response letter also acknowledged that the origin of the marijuana ban was largely influenced by the U.S. government in the 1990s—something the first president of WADA touched on in a recent interview with Marijuana Moment.
And as of now advocates have strongly opposed the penalty against Richardson. Yet the USADA said that questions still remain as to whether marijuana should be considered a performance-enhancing drug. They went on to say it “has also been reported in scientific literature and anecdotally by athletes that marijuana can decrease anxiety, fear, depression and tension thereby allowing athletes to better perform under pressure and alleviating stress experienced immediately before and during competition.”
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