Canadian Athlete Enter Tricky Doping Landscape With Pending Legalization of Weed

Article by National Post

Canadian athlete enter tricky doping landscape with pending legalization of weed. Growing flowers of cannabis intended for the medical marijuana market are shown at OrganiGram in Moncton, N.B., on April 14, 2016. Canada's elite athletes are smoking, eating and investing in marijuana. Is a toke before stepping to the start line far off? The Canadian government intends to legalize recreational cannabis by July 1, 2018. It's already legal for personal, recreational use in a handful of U.S. states

Canada’s elite athletes are smoking, eating and investing in marijuana. Is a toke before stepping to the start line far off?

The Canadian government intends to legalize recreational cannabis by July 1, 2018. It’s already legal for personal, recreational use in a handful of U.S. states.

Cannabis, hashish, marijuana, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list, but only during competition.

When labs receive urine samples taken out of competition, they don’t test for those substances, according to the Canadian Centre For Ethics in Sport.

WADA also relaxed the in-competition threshold in 2013 to allow for 150 nanograms per millilitre of urine instead of 15.

That tenfold change is significant given Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati was nearly stripped of his Olympic gold medal in 1998 at 17.8 ng/ml.

He said he inhaled second-hand smoke from a joint. Rebagliati’s medal was reinstated largely because marijuana wasn’t yet a banned substance by the International Olympic Committee.

An informal survey of Canadian athletes planning to compete in February’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, produced a variety of opinions, ranging from keeping marijuana on the prohibited list to removing it when it becomes legal at home.

“I think it’s pretty proven that it’s not unsafe for you and it’s definitely not performance-enhancing, at least in what I do,” alpine skier Dustin Cook said.

“So yeah, I think it should be taken off the banned list when it becomes legal.”

Snowboarder Spencer O’Brien agreed.

“I personally do not smoke weed, but I feel like it’s not a performance enhancing drug,” she said. “I don’t see any aspect of that that would give somebody a competitive edge.

“Cigarettes aren’t a banned substance. They’re not great for you, but they’re not a banned substance. Once marijuana is legalized, I think it should be something that isn’t a banned substance.”

Bobsled pilot Kaillie Humphries says she’s never tried weed or hash “and I think I’m the only athlete in the entire world,” but knows of teammates who smoke it and eat it in food as a sleep aid while training.

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