The White House is pursuing a meeting with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in order to discuss loosening the restrictions on the use of cannabis in sport, motivated by star track sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson‘s exclusion from the U.S. Olympic team after testing positive for marijuana.
Richardson won the women’s 100m event at the Olympic Trials, but her positive test resulted in a one-month suspension, eliminating her trials victory. Last Tuesday, USA Track & Field (USATF) declined to select her to the Tokyo Olympic Games for the 4x100m relay.
Tate Jackson, a U.S. National Team swimmer, also received a one-month ban earlier this year after testing positive for THC, a metabolite of the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Despite the suspension ending in late April, Jackson did not compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials last month.
The White House is seeking the meeting through the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which has a seat on the foundation board of WADA. The board’s next scheduled meeting is November 25, but according to The Financial Times, the ONDCP is hoping to secure an “earlier discussion within WADA.”
“We certainly have to respect the role of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the U.S. Olympic Committee and the decisions they make,” said Psaki. “But it is sad, and we do wish her luck and look forward to seeing her running, running as the fastest woman in the world, and for years to come.”
The office reportedly intends to ask WADA about the policies for cannabis use, including the timeframe for testing and the basis for consideration of cannabis as a performance-enhancing drug.
Marijuana laws have softened significantly in the U.S. recently, with 19 states having fully legalized recreational use as of last month, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.
However, WADA remains the global arbiter, reminded U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis Tygart.
“While the U.S. government has a seat at the table to provide feedback, and will continue to speak up for athletes, we are ultimately bound to the WADA rules,” he said in a statement.
The White House has threatened to pull funding from WADA in the past, questioning whether or not their investment was worthwhile and demanding serious reform in June 2020.
With the U.S. being the largest single contributor to WADA’s budget (expected to provide more than $2.9 million in 2021, per the agency’s website), it begs the question whether or not the government could again threaten to pull funding if WADA doesn’t abide to their requests.
The agency does an annual review of its banned and restricted substances list, which seeks input from all stakeholders, which is slated to begin in August and conclude in the fall.