Italian sprinter Andrea Vergani will be eligible again in time to race at the World Championships that start later this month, sources tell SwimSwam.
He was officially entered to the meet by Italy, and his suspension will expire on July 18th. Racing begins at the Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center on July 21st, with heats of Vergani’s lone individual event, the 50 free, starting on July 26th.
The Italian federation announced in April that Vergani had tested positive for cannabis (marijuana) during a test at the Italian National Championships in Riccione, Italy on April 2nd. At that same meet, he swam a 21.53 in the 50 free that broke the Italian National Record and at the time ranked him #1 in the world. He currently ranks 5th in the world in the event.
Marijuana is a banned substance only in competition, and is legal out-of-competition. THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, can show up in a urine test for up to a month after inhalation.
The United States Anti-Doping Association lays out the following arguments for why marijuana is banned in-competition:
- Performance-enhancement: A common perception of marijuana is that its use impairs physical activity, including exercise performance. While the effects of marijuana can decrease hand-eye coordination and distort spatial perception, there are other effects that can be performance enhancing for some athletes and sport disciplines. Cannabis can cause muscle relaxation and reduce pain during post-workout recovery. It can also decrease anxiety and tension, resulting in better sport performance under pressure. In addition, cannabis can increase focus and risk-taking behaviors, allowing athletes to forget bad falls or previous trauma in sport, and push themselves past those fears in competition.
- Actual or potential health risk: A number of studies show that marijuana use may cause a variety of health risks. These risks include negative effects on respiratory, cardiac, and mental health. Frequent marijuana smokers can experience respiratory problems including more frequent acute chest illness and a heightened risk of lung infections. Marijuana use raises the heart rate by 20-100 percent shortly after smoking which can increase the risk of heart attack. Chronic marijuana use has also been linked to mental illness including paranoia and psychosis.
- Violation of the spirit of sport: Negative values and ethics included in sport, and beyond sport, are considered in this criteria. Due to the illegal nature of marijuana in most countries, the use or abuse of marijuana does not exhibit the ethics and moral judgment that upholds the spirit of sport.