Marijuana has long been a tricky topic in the world of sports drug testing. The drug is largely banned by most professional sports leagues, despite the fact that it doesn’t really have an effect on an athlete’s performance while also having proven benefits in helping athletes recover from injuries and other ailments. But now there are signs that times may change.
The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released their 2018 prohibited substances list and it contained one surprise: Cannabidiol (also known as CBD) is no longer a banned drug. The WADA is the anti-doping agency created by the International Olympic Committee and is used to test Olympic and other international athletes during competitions.
CBD has many documented medical benefits that can help professional athletes, primarily its ability to help treat chronic pain. The drug gained some attention in 2016 when UFC fighter Nate Diaz used CBD in a vape pen during a post-fight press conference. He explained that it helped him deal with post-fight conditions.
“It’s CBD,” Diaz said. “It helps with the healing process and inflammation, stuff like that. So you want to get these for before and after the fights, training. It’ll make your life a better place.”
But this doesn’t mean that all marijuana will be allowed by the WADA. They still pointed out that THC, the main psychoactive component in marijuana, is still banned by the WADA. So even though CBD main be legal, athletes will need to be wary that the way they consume it doesn’t involve THC.
In addition, it doesn’t mean a whole lot for American athletes either. The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) tests most athletes in the country, and they continue to list CBD as one of their prohibited substances. But if one of the largest anti-doping agencies changes their rules on CBD, it’s only a matter of time before others begin changing their minds as well.