Andrea Vergani Expected to Race at World Championships after Marijuana Test

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.[1]
  • 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.[2]
  • 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.[1]


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“Cannabis can cause muscle relaxation and reduce pain during post-workout recovery. It can also decrease anxiety” = basically can reduce inflammation and help someone relax when they have to deal with pressure of being a professional athlete.


Muddy Canary

Just get high on your teammate’s inhaler pre-race, they’ll drop the suspension.


This made me wonder, can you get a TUE for medical marijuana as an athlete?

Muddy Canary

I’ve wondered this, too. Especially for Cali/Oregon/Washington/Colorado teams in the NCAA… Since it’s a national body, and marijuana is still federally legal, that the athlete still has to abide by those rules. Kinda like if Cali passes their athlete payment law, the NCAA still has the right to punish those schools.

Justin Wright

Kind of. The only medical reason considered valid for a TUE for Marijuana is severe chronic nerve pain.


As an absolutely rabid anti-doping person, I am actually ok with this. If an athlete tests for an illicit drug that is NOT performance enhancing, let them compete. I think EPO and self-blood infusion are the big problems in swimming as well as strength steroids (cough Brazil).


Not sure many guys are doing EPO, the average speeds in cycling were ridiculous during the EPO years and have fallen notably since. Comparably, the drop in distance swimming records is relatively slow.


“Strength steroids” gives me a good notion of what kind of scientific knowledge is coming up with such comments

Man of Steel

“Strength steroids” aka often DHT based steroids which work to increase strength with little increases in muscle mass due to low anabolic/androgenic ratio.




That’s gonna be his Reaction Time


That’s assuming he makes it up to the blocks


“Why is everyone at the other end of the–OOOHH”

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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