The Olympics are tougher on marijuana than professional sports

Although professional leagues are slowly adjusting to the reality that marijuana is not a performance enhancing drug, it remains squarely on the list of banned Olympic sports.

That reality will force American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson to miss the Olympics this month.

Shortly after winning the Olympic trials in Oregon last month, she tested positive for chemicals found in marijuana. Although it was recognized that the drug was not being used for performance enhancing purposes, Richardson still had his results erased and received a one-month ban.

Some questions about the policy of cannabis in sport:

Q: If marijuana isn’t supposed to improve performance, then why is it still banned?
A: According to the United States Anti-Doping Agency, “In order for an item to be added to the… Prohibited List, it must meet two of the three inclusion criteria: a) it presents a risk to the health of the athletes. b) it has the potential to improve performance and c) it violates the spirit of the sport. “Although WADA raised the threshold for a positive test, it did not remove marijuana from the list because it still claims the drug meets at least two of the above criteria. Still according to USADA: The World Anti-Doping Code 2021 newly classifies THC as a “substance of abuse” because it is frequently used in society outside of the context of sport.

Q: What has changed recently in American sports leagues?
A: All leagues have relaxed their restrictions on marijuana considerably over the past few years. For example, the

raised the threshold of a positive test and removed the suspensions. And the NBA stopped random testing for marijuana in March 2020. The changes came as laws banning the use of marijuana in the United States and around the world were relaxed, and studies linking marijuana to medicinal benefits and pain relievers have become more common.

Q: What changes have taken place in the Olympic testing program?
A: Shortly after the London Olympics in 2012, international regulators increased the positive test threshold from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150 ng / m. They explained that the new threshold was an attempt to ensure that in-competition use is detected, but not use in the days and weeks before competition. The penalty for testing positive when an athlete can establish that the drug was not used to improve performance is three months. This can be reduced to one month if the athlete completes counseling.

Q: If Richardson’s ban is 30 days and ends July 27, why can’t she compete in the 100 Olympics, which begins July 30?
A: Because his first place in practice, which earned him the place, is stricken from the record books because of the positive test.

Q: Could she still compete in the Olympics?
A: Because her ban is over before the start of the women’s 4×100 relay, there is a chance that she will be named to the team. But the relay pool is likely filled with athletes who have a test result. Richardson does not officially have a result, so it would potentially require legal wrangling or the cooperation of other athletes to allow him to be on the team.

Q: Could Richardson appeal the decision?
A: While athletes have the right to appeal any positive test, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press that Richardson is not appealing his case. People didn’t want their names used because of the confidentiality of doping cases.

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