WADA To Review Cannabis Ban Following Sha'Carri Richardson Suspension

Sha'Carri Richardson

Photo: Getty Images

The World Anti-Doping Agency, commonly known as WADA, has announced that they will review their current policies banning the use of cannabis. According to a statement from the organization's executive committee, "a number of stakeholders" have requested that they plan "a scientific review of the status of cannabis" that will start next year. As explained in the organization's press release, cannabis will remain a banned substance in 2022, but it could be removed from the organization's banned substance list prior to the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, France.

WADA's decision comes weeks after fans across the United States and the international track & field community were stunned to learn that rising star Sha'Carri Richardson would not be able to compete in the 2021 Summer Olympic Games because she had tested positive for cannabis. As Richardson explained in subsequent interviews, she had learned of her biological mother's death during an interaction with a reporter near the time of the women's 100m final at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials. To cope with the death of her mother, it appears that cannabis had entered her system. As a result, she was suspended for 30 days and essentially barred from competing in Tokyo this summer.

In the wake of her 30-day suspension, a number of fellow athletes, fans and medical experts have called out WADA and the International Olympic Committee for its handling of cannabis use. Many people questioned why it was considered a performance-enhancing drug at all.

"I didn't think the evidence base for marijuana would be particularly strong," Dr. Michael Joyner of the Mayo Clinic told NPR's Sarah McCammon in July.

"But as I looked at the papers yesterday, I was surprised at how weak it is."

In the meantime, Richardson has continued to compete in the Diamond League. She finished 9th in the women's 100m at the Prefontaine Classic and fourth in the women's 200m at a Diamond League event in Brussels, Belgium.

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