US National Team swimmer Tate Jackson has been given a 1-month suspension by the United States Anti-Doping Association (USADA) after testing positive for THC, a metabolite of the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Jackson tested positive during a doping sample collection on March 4 while competing at the Pro Swim Series meet in San Antonio. His suspension is dated to March 25, 2021, the date of his provisional suspension, meaning that the suspension has already expired.
The short suspension is one of the first big tests of the new World Anti-Doping Code policy on “substances of abuse,” so claimed because they are frequently used outside of the context of sport.
If an athlete who tests positive for a Substance of Abuse establishes that their use of the substance occurred out of competition and was unrelated to sport performance, the athlete will receive a three-month sanction. If the athlete satisfactorily completes a Substance of Abuse treatment program approved by USADA, the sanction may be further reduced to one month.
USADA cited multiple factors for the reduced suspension. Jackson’s suspension was reduced because his use of cannabis was outside of competition (even though the test happened in competition), it was “unrealted to sport performance,” because they found a “low degree of fault,” and because he completed a counseling program regarding his use of cannabis.
Cannabinoids, the class of substances that includes THC, is only banned in competition under World Anti-Doping Code rules, but can be detected in urine for up to 30 days.
The one-month suspension, plus a stripping of all results since March 4, is a very light sentence. The punishment includes his 4th-place finish in the 100 free at that Pro Swim Series meet (though no points or money was awarded during this year’s series).
Because of the “zero tolerance” policies put in place by the International Swimming League, Jackson is disqualified from participating in that league forever. While the ISL has declined to further parse its policy, thus far, the delimiting factor seems to be whether an outside anti-doping authority gives an athlete a suspension of any length of time. Athletes who have received only warnings, like Etiene Medeiros and Grigory Tarasevich, have been allowed to compete.
Jackson represented the Cali Condors during the 2020 International Swimming League season, where he raced in all 4 regular season matches primarily as a relay specialist and scored 26 MVP points, which tied him for 204th in the league. In the league finale, he swam in both the men’s and mixed 400 free relays as Cali took home the Season 2 title.
A former Texas Longhorn, Jackson currently represents the affiliated Longhorn Aquatics. The 24-year old won 2 gold and 1 silver medal at the 2019 World University Games. The gold medals were both earned on relays, while the silver was an individual win in the 100 free behind only fellow American Zach Apple.
Jackson’s 47.88 in the 100 free from the 2019 US Summer National Championships ranks him as the 6th-fastest American during the Olympic Trials qualifying period and gives him some chance of making the U.S. Olympic Team – the top 6 in the 100 free are usually selected for relay purposes.
Fastest Americans, Men’s 100 LCM Free, Olympic Trials Qualifying Period:
- Caeleb Dressel – 46.96 (2019 Worlds)
- Ryan Held – 47.39 (2019 Summer Nationals)
- Maxime Rooney – 47.61 (2019 Summer Nationals)
- Zach Apple – 47.69 (2019 US Open)
- Blake Pieroni – 47.87 (2019 Worlds)
- Tate Jackson – 47.88 (2019 Summer Nationals)
- Dean Farris – 48.07 (2019 Summer Nationals)
- Robert Howard – 48.37 (2019 Summer Nationals)
- Jack Conger – 48.47 (2019 Summer Nationals)
- Daniel Krueger – 48.55 (2019 Summer Nationals)