The news of American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson receiving a ban and having her Olympic trial results erased after testing positive for marijuana has taken over the internet, social media, and news sites globally. Many were outraged to hear how the athlete would be forced to miss the Olympics due to the ban.
The news also sparked heated debate over whether marijuana can be considered a performance-enhancing drug.
Professional athletes such as professional skier and Olympic silver medalist Gus Kenworthy weighed in with Kenworthy tweeting, “Marijuana isn’t a performance-enhancing drug, and it’s time for a change in policy if we’re going to dash people’s dreams over it.”
What the Science Says
Despite the lack of research and reputable studies on the effect marijuana use may have on athletic performance, studies have revealed that marijuana is not used as a performance-enhancing drug and has little to no scientifically-researched benefits on exercise, with the exception of recovery from an athletic industry.As recently as 2020, a research paper from the National Library of Medicine stated that cannabis “does not act as a sport performance-enhancing agent,”even going as far as recommending that athletes avoid cannabis consumption before exercise to improve their performance.
The paper continued to reveal that results of cannabis consumption before cannabis reveal that it has a detrimental effect on performance and elicits undesired physiological responses such as increased heart and breathing rate and affecting balance. Unfortunately, scientific reports aren’t always enough to convince sports institutions.
Olympic Regulations and Other Sports Leagues
What Does This Mean for the Future?
As the public stigma of marijuana use lessens and the legalization movement gains traction worldwide, many major sports leagues are likely to grow more open-minded and accept their players’ cannabis use. Additionally, sports leagues may even embrace the potential benefits cannabis brings to sports injury recovery. However, whether this will be enough to sway the WADA and cause them to change their policies remains to be seen.