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Sha’Carri Richardsons’ disqualification has caused WADA to open a review on cannabis ban

Jun 19, 2021; Eugene, OR, USA; Sha'Carri Richardson (right) celebrates with Javianne Oliver after winning the women's 100m in 10.86 during the US Olympic Team Trials at Hayward Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Two months after Track and Field star Sha’Carri Richardson was disqualified from the 2020 Olympics due to a positive marijuana test, WADA has opened a review. The World Anti-Doping Agency is reviewing whether cannabis should remain a banned substance.

The 21-year-old told reporters later that she had used cannabis to cope with her mother’s death rather than in a bid to enhance her performance.

In their statement on Tuesday, WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) said the review comes after receiving multiple requests from several stakeholders. The agency’s Prohibited List Expert Advisory Group will conduct the scientific review and will begin in 2022. The substance will remain banned in 2022 and beyond until any change of status is confirmed.

Richardson won the 100m at the American Olympic trials in June. Her positive test came at the Olympic trials, a week after the death of her mother. As such, her qualifying times were erased, and she received a one-month suspension.

Why the ban wasn’t more severe

Currently, testing positive for cannabis can carry a ban of up to four years. However, the US Anti-Doping Agency and USA Track and Field accepted that Richardson did not use cannabis to enhance performance. However, they said they had no choice but to follow the rules.

Many believe this review is coming a few years too late. A study published in 2018 said that there is no direct evidence of cannabis enhancing athlete’s performance.

“There is no direct evidence of performance-enhancing effects in athletes. The potential beneficial effects of cannabis as part of a pain management protocol, including reducing concussion-related symptoms. Deserve further attention”.

Extract from the a 2018 study published in the Cinical Journal of Sports Medicine

Elaine Thompson Herah ultimately took home the gold at the Tokyo Olympics. But at 21, Sha’Carri Richardson will hope that she is ready to compete again at the 2024 games.

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