White House Pushing For Rule Review On Cannabis Use In Sport

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 know the rules are where they are, maybe we should take another look at them,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki (a former collegiate swimmer) said in a CNN interview.

“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.

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Joel Lin
2 months ago

Good call. This is an antiquated & poorly applied standard. Cannibas should be off the preclusion list. Allow athletes to disclose on their entry forms in confidence is the only standard that should apply here. Albuterol is medically needed for some athletes. There’s an argument that is performance enhancing, but the exceptions have merits. Weed is not performance enhancing.

Swim Dad
Reply to  Joel Lin
2 months ago

There are going to be other large and influential countries strongly opposed to loosening the rules regarding cannabis so I don’t think this is going to change anything at the Olympic level. Penalties for marijuana use are draconian in many parts of the world.

Corn Pop
Reply to  Joel Lin
2 months ago

Pre Emptive headline …… Dude In A Loose Mood Wins The 100m Sprint .

Last edited 2 months ago by Corn Pop
HJones
2 months ago

I didn’t see this outrage when Tate Jackson got suspended for cannabis this year. Does anyone know what happened to him? I have heard a few rumors but nothing conclusive. It is a shame he didn’t swim at trials, as he was right on his in-season best times and looked to be in good shape to make the team.

PVSFree
Reply to  HJones
2 months ago

To be frank, Tate Jackson wasn’t going to be challenging for any gold medals. Richardson was. Richardson’s also got a much bigger profile than Jackson.

I think the swimming equivalent to Richardson would be like if Dressel was banned from the games for cannabis use; obviously then there’d be a lot more outrage

Admin
Reply to  PVSFree
2 months ago

I’d debate if he were going to be challenging for gold medals – on a relay at least. However, the timing of Jackson’s suspension makes a huge difference.

This goes back to “Richardson wasn’t given a conduct penalty for smoking pot.” Tate’s test was at a fairly inconsequential meet. So, while he wound up retiring and not racing at Trials, the loss of results weren’t really that big of a deal. Richardson losing the result that put her on the Olympic Team was a much, much bigger deal.

pSL1988
Reply to  HJones
2 months ago

Tate Jackson is White, Richardson is Black #BlackLiveMatter

TerryO
Reply to  pSL1988
2 months ago

And THIS IS HOW DC thinks about this staff, nothing more

Ger
2 months ago

She was sanctioned for taking a banned substance. The last thing we need is politicians trying to rewrite the rules. She knew the risk and took a chance and was caught, regardless of the circumstances. She could have sought help in other ways.

Joel Lin
Reply to  Ger
2 months ago

Fair point. It is (arguably) just a bad rule, a bad standard. But it is the rule. Everyone knows the rule. The rule applies equally to all. She is responsible & the sanction is not unfair.

But a full revisit to changes to the rule going forward is a good thing. I wish it didn’t appear so political in terms of both optics & timing, but here we are.

HJones
Reply to  Joel Lin
2 months ago

Even then, it might be a hard push to change WADA’s stance on weed on the near future. More than half of the world’s countries do not share the same optics on weed as the US does, as it is illegal in most parts of the eastern hemisphere. This includes Russia and China, both big players of influence.

Fluidg
Reply to  HJones
2 months ago

A big part of the reason for marijuana’s near worldwide prohibition is directly due to political pressure exerted on other countries by the US government and it’s disastrous “war on drugs”.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Fluidg
2 months ago

Sources please?

HJones
Reply to  Coach Mike 1952
2 months ago

Fluidg’s point would mainly concern countries in Central America and the Middle East–not exactly places where countries have high influence in WADA. China, Russia, and Japan’s prohibition of marijuana has little or nothing to do with the “war on drugs”.

Coach Tom
Reply to  Ger
2 months ago

I agree that she knew the rules, broke them, and was fairly banned for doing so. But does this really preclude questioning whether or not the rule itself is fair?

Brian
Reply to  Coach Tom
2 months ago

Questioning a rule and examining it is fair. Threatening or applying pressure to change a rule because the outcome wasn’t favorable to the largest funding nation is the problem. The argument about changing the rule in the future is fine. Altering the rules because of funding being threatened isn’t fair and WADA should not be put in that position.

James Beam
Reply to  Ger
2 months ago

Agree 110%. Annie Lazor’s father passed away and she didn’t need to smoke pot to deal with the loss.

PVSFree
Reply to  James Beam
2 months ago

Not everyone deals with grief in the same way, I don’t think anyone should be faulted with how they choose to grieve

Think Please
Reply to  PVSFree
2 months ago

But you should be faulted for breaking rules you know exist

Last edited 2 months ago by Think Please
Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  James Beam
2 months ago

First of all, worst take ever. Second, how do you know? He tragically died 2 months before Trials. If there wasn’t an out-of-competition between then and Trials, it would’ve cleared her system by then.

Comet
Reply to  James Beam
2 months ago

💯

Fluidg
Reply to  Ger
2 months ago

Who else is going to rewrite the rules? Politicians wrote the terrible marijuana laws in the first place. Change is long overdue. That said, I don’t think being high during competition should ever be allowed. Outside of competition is a different matter. Same rules as alcohol use.

Admin
Reply to  Fluidg
2 months ago

Marijuana is allowed out of competition.

The issue is that marijuana lingers in the body after use. The thresholds for a positive test are fairly high in relative terms of positive test for marijuana threshold, but you can still clear that threshold without being high during competition, per se.

Troyy
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 months ago

WADA’s definition of in comeptition is from midday the day before competing through until test collection post competing so a bong the night before is still in competition.

Last edited 2 months ago by Troyy
Chris
Reply to  Fluidg
2 months ago

agree that you shouldnt be “high” during comp. If its in your system that’s one thing but being baked during your meet probably isnt a good idea.

USAUSAUSA
Reply to  Ger
2 months ago

Isn’t it in the job description of politicians to write rules?

Troyy
Reply to  USAUSAUSA
2 months ago

Not in sports.

Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
2 months ago

Pass the bong.

Eric the Eel > Michael Phelps
2 months ago

+1 like from Jamaica

DJTrockstoYMCA
2 months ago

Wonder if the “White House” would be involved if it were a non-minority involved in a cannabis suspension?

HJones
Reply to  DJTrockstoYMCA
2 months ago

For someone of Richardson’s caliber, the White House probably would. But, there certainly have been a decent number of politicians who have turned this into a race issue (looking at you, AOC) which is absolutely ridiculous.

Tomek
Reply to  DJTrockstoYMCA
2 months ago

My guess would be no

Vanilla Gorilla
Reply to  DJTrockstoYMCA
2 months ago

Yes I think they would. This is a medal contender in argueably the most visible and popular event in the games.

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  DJTrockstoYMCA
2 months ago

Yeah, all those oppressed white people. Great thread. Upthread somebody insisted, “the last thing we need is politicians trying to rewrite the rules.” Yet that is exactly what is going on in one state legislature after another, intentionally designed to make it more difficult for minorities to vote.

WestCoastRefugee
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
2 months ago

Maybe try to get your info from somewhere other than the MSM.

Chris
Reply to  WestCoastRefugee
2 months ago

You’re ridiculous. Where do you get your info from?

eagleswim
Reply to  Chris
2 months ago

my uncle on facebook. say what you will about his “research methods,” but at least he’s not being paid by big pharma. He told me his friend got mumps from the covid vaccine, how you gonna argue with that?

Corn Pop
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
2 months ago

Anti voters exist .

HJones
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
2 months ago

Making it more difficult fo minorities to vote, or trying to increase election integrity after BOTH sides (the left in 2016, the right in 2020) have whined about election interference in the past two cycles?? Have you actually read the “voting restriction” bills, or do you just hear what others will tell you?

Admin
Reply to  HJones
2 months ago

Keep it on topic, please.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
2 months ago

That voter ID is elusive for sure.

IM FAN
2 months ago

This seems to just be a PR move. Unfortunately there are plenty of other countries that are quite happy with the current policy that have enough influence to keep the status quo.

This administration has also done nothing to overhaul current U.S federal law regarding cannibis. Though this is an encouraging signal on that front the lack of prioritization of, if there even is any interest in overhauling federal regulation of cannibis from this administration makes me suspect a more cynical motive here.

Last edited 2 months ago by IM FAN
WestCoastRefugee
2 months ago

This is grandstanding by the WH pure and simple. It doesn’t matter what we say, it matters what WADA says. Until Cannabis is legal internationally it is not coming off the list. Remember, pain management falls under performance enhancement as well. You can’t allow a drug that is shown to dramatically alleviate pain and anxiety that is for the most part banned in a significant majority of the world (including many parts of the US).

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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