White House to host meeting on cannabis consumption rules among competing athletes


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has announced that it wants to provide competing athletes with greater flexibility in terms of cannabis consumption. 

News of the USADA’s request for flexible rules comes in response to the news of American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson being forced to forfeit her win at the Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon last month.

In an attempt to tackle the issue head-on, the White House is planning to host a meeting. Although it remains uncertain as to precisely who will be present at the meeting on cannabis for competing athletes, members of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are being requested to discuss the subject alongside White House representatives.

“Our annual science-based comments to WADA have also focused on doing oral fluid or blood testing, and not the current WADA-mandated urine testing approach, to ensure those who may choose to legally use marijuana out-of-competition, which is allowed by the rules, are not caught and punished by the system, and to also ensure that those who use in unsafe or for competitive purposes are held accountable,” wrote USADA Chief Science Officer Matthew Fedoruk in an email to Reuters.

21-year-old sprinter gets one month ban for using cannabis off-the-track

After being caught violating the cannabis consumption rules, Sha’Carri Richardson was instantly banned from competing at the Tokyo Games from July 23-Aug. 8 . The Dallas, Texas native was initially considered a hopeful contender for the 100-meter gold, but a one-month ban means that her chances of winning are now just a pipedream.

With her 30-day suspension concluding before the relays begin on August 5, Richardson is sure to feel disappointed about missing out on a possible medal as part of the 4×100 relay team. Anticipation turned to devastation when the 21-year-old saw that her name was not featured on the Olympic roster released Tuesday, July 6 by USA Track and Field; she is deemed ineligible for the U.S. team due to breaching the drug rules. 

During an interview with NBC, Richardson claimed that she had consumed cannabis in a bid to cope with the death of her mother. Ultimately, this led to her receiving thousands of messages of condolence, including a sympathetic response from President Joe Biden. When requested for comment, The White House failed to  respond.

“I’m sorry I can’t be y’all Olympic Champ this year, but I promise I’ll be your World Champ next year,” reads a Tweet from the young athlete, who appears to have garnered plenty of support on the social networking platform from fans and industry followers alike.

Back in 2014, WADA’s Health, Medical and Research Committee introduced a proposal to raise  the threshold for a positive cannabis test. Without question, the plan was dismissed by the USADA.

USADA letter advocates to ease restrictions for cannabis use among athletes

For more than a decade, the subject of cannabis consumption among athletes has been met with difficulty by the USADA. Most arguments focus on the plant’s lingering status in the prohibited list. 

However, in a letter sent to Congressman Jamie Raskin and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Friday, July 9, president of the USADA, Travis Tygart, certified that it was standing up for more easygoing rules to resolve problems pertaining to the use of cannabis by athletes.

“Since 2004, and as recently as 2021, USADA has without exception insisted that cannabis should remain on the (banned) list,” WADA told Reuters, adding that USADA submissions to WADA’s Prohibited List Expert Group have led to cannabis remaining on the prohibited list.

Another key element of the USADA’s letter to Congress highlighted how much of the global population still thinks of cannabis as an illicit substance; the Agency contested that the topic of cannabis’ performance-enhancing benefit in sport requires further research.