Despite the many controversies that surround the banning of marijuana for professional athletes, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is set in its ways. The organization has chosen to keep marijuana on its list of prohibited substances for 2023.
The Wall Street Journal reports that insiders had a look at the agency’s list and a decision will likely be finalized at the end of the month.
This decision comes months after the suspension of Sha’Carri Richardson, who was banned from participating in the Tokyo Olympics after she tested positive for marijuana. She was one of the U.S. favorites for the women’s 100-meter race and argued that she’d used marijuana to treat anxiety following the death of a family member.
Following Richardson’s suspension, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and a variety of U.S. politicians urged WADA to reconsider its stance on marijuana. The agency agreed to initiate a scientific review of its banned substances list. While the decision to keep cannabis on the list is yet to be announced, WADA’s Prohibited List Expert Advisory Group claims that keeping or removing marijuana from their list is based on the scientific evidence that’s available. According to these criteria, marijuana should be banned from sports.
“The draft 2023 Prohibited List is still under consideration,” said a WADA spokesperson. “WADA’s Executive Committee will be asked to approve the final version of the List during its 23 September meeting, with the List itself being published on or before 1 October and coming into force on 1 January.”
Politicians in the U.S. have praised Richardson, although President Biden refused to comment on the suspension itself. A WADA spokesperson said that “to date neither the United States authorities nor the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has requested the removal of cannabis from the Prohibited List.”
Still, countries like the Netherlands have made their stance clear and have called for WADA to reconsider their stance, worrying over the use of common CBD products which could affect athletes. “Cannabinoids most likely have a negative impact on athletic performance,” said the Dutch agency.
WADA’s prohibited list was published in 2004, and it includes drugs that can enhance sports performance, present a health risk to the athlete and violate the spirit of the sport. It puts marijuana alongside cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy.