WADA Will Review Marijuana Policy After Sha'Carri Richardson's Olympic Ban

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 15, 2021

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 03: Sha'Carri Richardson of The United States during the women's 200m of the Wanda Diamond League Memorial Van Damme at King Baudouin Stadium on September 3, 2021 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Jorge Luis Alvarez Pupo/Getty Images)
Jorge Luis Alvarez Pupo/Getty Images

The World Anti-Doping Agency announced Tuesday it would be reviewing its marijuana policy during an executive committee meeting.

The organization noted that "following receipt of requests from a number of stakeholders, the ExCo endorsed the decision of the List Expert Advisory Group to initiate in 2022 a scientific review of the status of cannabis. Cannabis is currently prohibited in competition and will continue to be in 2022."

Sha'Carri Richardson, who won the 100-meter dash at the U.S. Olympic trials, was given a 30-day ban in July after testing positive for THC, preventing her from competing at this summer's Tokyo Games. 

The 21-year-old sprinter said at the time she had been using the substance for "emotional panic" after learning of her biological mother's death. 

"I know what I'm not allowed to do and I still made that decision," she added. "[I'm] not making an excuse or looking for any empathy."

Sha’Carri Richardson @itskerrii

I’m sorry, I can’t be y’all Olympic Champ this year but I promise I’ll be your World Champ next year 🤞🏽⚡️.

But as marijuana continues to be legalized across the United States and in other countries—Richardson used the drug in Oregon, where the Olympic Trials were held and where it is a legal substance—her suspension opened up a conversation about why marijuana was banned by WADA, since it hardly appears to be a performance-enhancing drug in most, if not all, Olympic events.

"There's almost no information about how it influences athletic performance and certainly very little information about how it might influence performance in things like shooting, archery and so forth, things that would require relaxation," the Mayo Clinic's Dr. Michael Joyner told NPR's Sarah McCammon about THC in July. "So really, the evidence is either non-existent, very thin, and again, wouldn't apply to any of the events that Richardson is in."

And the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team said at the time that WADA's rules "should be reevaluated."