US Track and Field (USATF) confirmed Tuesday that Olympic hopeful Sha’Carri Richardson will not compete in Tokyo after testing positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Since the 30-day suspension of the sprinter was announced on Friday, celebrities and lawmakers, including U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have come to her defense asking the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to reassess her stance. to designate marijuana as a banned substance and for USATF to let Richardson compete.
The WADA, which sets anti-doping guidelines for sports organizations around the world, bans substances that can increase performance, pose a risk to the athlete and / or “violate the sporting spirit.”
CU Boulder Today asked psychology and neuroscience teacher Angela Bryan, who studies the risks and benefits of cannabis, what science says about the relationship between weeds and sport.
Does THC improve performance?
There is very little research on this topic and many of them date back to the 70s, however suggest the available data that cannabis does not improve performance from the perspective of speed, potency, or strength. In one study, researchers made cyclists use cannabis or not, and then evaluated their performance on the bike. They looked at both speed and power, and both decreased in cannabis condition. Others have shown little or no difference in performance.
One caveat: these studies were done with a lower-potency product supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for research and may not reflect what athletes actually use these days, so more studies are needed. There is no evidence that using it a few nights before the competition will affect performance days later.
A good number of people use cannabis before or after exercise. Because?
In one study, we were surprised to learn 8 out of 10 marijuana users in states where cannabis is legal, use it shortly before or after exercise. What we do know is that it can help with recovery in the same way as an Advil or a Tylenol. People report using it to help with post-workout pain and muscle soreness and inflammation. We also have news of some endurance athletes, including ultra-runners, consuming cannabis immediately before doing physical activity to make the three-hour or four-hour bike ride more enjoyable and less boring.
To learn more about this, we will launch a study next month in which we will take people to the lab to run on the treadmill, once under the influence of cannabis, once not under the influence. We will evaluate their experience of pain, their perception of the passage of time and their effect –– or how well they feel– during exercise.
The AMA also bans substances that are “a risk to the athlete’s health.” Is THC a health risk?
What we can say with some degree of safety right now is that high-potency THC products aren’t great for the developing brains of young teens or for people with a family or personal history of psychosis – it’s likely that be committed within cannabis use. There are also some acute effects on verbal memory, but they are not lasting.
Other than that, there is little convincing evidence of treble or long-term health risks of cannabis use and there is certainly nothing close to the risk of using alcohol, which is not on the list of banned substances. Many people die from alcohol poisoning every year, and that just doesn’t happen with cannabis.
Does Richardson say he used her to deal with his mother’s death? Does THC help with mental health issues?
Depression, anxiety, sleep, and pain are the four major reasons why adults self-report cannabis use medicinally. Many people report that cannabis is useful for them in dealing with a mental health crisis. We are still learning it and our lab has several studies underway. What I do know is that if he had had a couple of beers or a glass of wine to deal with his mother’s death, we wouldn’t have had that conversation.
In your opinion, based on science, should THC banned for elite athletes continue?
Given that there is no convincing evidence, THC increases performance and is legal in the vast majority of U.S. states and entire countries, including Canada, I don’t think it should be included as a banned substance by to elite athletes or to any other type of athlete in this way. That said, it would in no way approve of Olympic athletes taking cannabis immediately before competing. My perspective is more that athletes who consume cannabis in their rest time, recreationally or as an aid to recovery, should not oppose the competition.
University of Colorado at Boulder
Citation: Why marijuana should not be banned for athletes (2021, July 8) retrieved July 8, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07-marijuana-athletes.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair treatment for the purposes of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. Content is provided for informational purposes only.