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After Olympic Letdown, WADA to Review Controversial Ban

Sha'Carri Richardson lost spot in Tokyo Games due to pot use
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2021 12:22 PM CDT
After Olympic Letdown, Pot Ban to Get a Fresh Look
Sha'Carri Richardson attends a news conference on Aug. 20, 2021.   (AP Photo/Thomas Boyd)

(Newser) – Sha'Carri Richardson missed her chance to compete in Tokyo's Summer Olympics due to pot use, but a move by the World Anti-Doping Agency could keep future athletes from meeting the same fate. On Tuesday, WADA announced it will set up an advisory committee to review whether cannabis should remain on the agency's list of banned substances past next year. USA Today notes WADA didn't point to Richardson's case specifically as triggering its latest action, but it did say it was making the move after "requests from a number of stakeholders."

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NPR notes that, after Richardson's suspension, an "outpouring of support" came her way, especially considering pot is legal for either medicinal or recreational use in 36 states and the District of Columbia. To be put on WADA's prohibited list, a drug must check two of three boxes: It must have the potential to be performance-enhancing; pose a health risk; and "[violate] the spirit of the sport." The advisory panel's review of how that list applies to cannabis will begin in 2022.

"I was surprised at how weak [the evidence] is" for pot having performance-enhancing powers, the Mayo Clinic's Dr. Michael Joyner told NPR earlier this summer, one of multiple experts who've weighed in to say they're not sure marijuana should be on WADA's list. Even if it's found that pot can be slashed for the next updated list, it will remain on the current one through the end of 2022. In fall of that year, the banned substances list will be compiled for 2023. (Read more WADA stories.)

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