The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has decided to review whether cannabis should remain banned in athletics. The agency’s move comes after United States athlete Sha’Carri Richardson missed the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for cannabis consumption in the month of June. The 21-year-old sprinter revealed that she had used cannabis to help cope with the death of her biological mother.
The agency said that a scientific review of cannabis consumption will begin next year and cannabis will remain prohibited till 2022, according to the BBC. The World Anti-Doping Agency said that the review is taking place “following receipt of requests from a number of stakeholders”.
Sha ‘Carri Richardson won the 100 meters sprint at the US Olympic trials in Oregon in June. Her sprint was the sixth-fastest time in history in the semi-finals. However, the qualification times were expunged after Richardson tested positive for cannabis consumption.
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The US Olympic trials took place a week after the death of Sha’Carri Richardson’s biological mother and the athlete said that she consumed marijuana in order to deal with the emotional impact. While the US anti-doping body was sympathetic to her ordeal, the rules did not allow her to compete in the Tokyo Games.
As the rules currently stand, testing positive for cannabis carries up to a four-year ban for athletes. However, the punishment can be reduced to three months if the athletes can prove that they did not take marijuana for performance enhancement. Further, the ban can be reduced to one month if the athletes agree to partake in a treatment programme.
After Richardson tested positive for cannabis, she was hit with the 30-day suspension. The anti-doping agency’s decision triggered outrage among fans of the athlete and others who wondered why marijuana remains banned even after some states in the US have legalised it in some degree.