The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is set to leave cannabis on its list of prohibited substances for 2023 despite significant backlash over the suspension last year of star American runner Sha’Carri Richardson, who was ultimately blocked from appearing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Failing to remove cannabis from its prohibited substances list would mean that professional athletes who must adhere to WADA’s drug-testing codes will continue to be blocked from using medical or adult-use cannabis despite its widespread legalization and acceptance in many countries and U.S. states.
The report says that WADA’s Prohibited List Expert Advisory Group had included cannabis on a draft list of banned substances for 2023 and that WADA had been advised by the group to maintain its ban, arguing that according to scientific evidence, the plant meets the criteria for being included on the list.
“The draft 2023 Prohibited List is still under consideration. 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.” — WADA spokesperson, in a statement
Richardson, 22, was suspended last year just a few weeks before the 2020 Summer Olympic Games after testing positive for cannabis, which she admitted to having used to deal with the “emotional panic” following her mother’s death. At the time, WADA said the agency sympathized “with the circumstances” and applauded Richardson’s “accountability for accepting that the rules are in place for athletes worldwide” but it could not reconsider her suspension.
The incident, however, sparked international outrage and led to an outpouring of support for Richardson from the public, other professional athletes, and politicians including U.S. Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Ultimately, WADA had announced last September that the agency would review its anti-cannabis policies although it now appears no changes will be made.
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