US Anti-Doping Agency Again Implies Cannabis Improves Athletic Performance

Photo via @taarra

That’s one possible conclusion to draw from the penalties imposed on Olympic long jumper Tara Davis-Woodhall

For the US Anti-Doping Agency, it wasn’t enough that Olympic long jumper Tara Davis-Woodhall accepted a “one-month period of ineligibility for an anti-doping rule violation” for failing a drug test due to “out-of-competition” cannabis use. As was officially announced this week, the USADA also stripped a title she won at the indoor US nationals before the failed test even took place. Here’s the agency’s absurd explanation:

Davis-Woodhall, 23, tested positive for 11-nor-9-carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol (Carboxy-THC), a urinary metabolite of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis, marijuana, and hashish, above the urinary Decision Limit of 180 ng/mL, as the result of a sample collected in-competition at the 2023 USATF Indoor Championships on February 17, 2023.

And the reason for their ridiculous ruling:

Cannabis, marijuana, and hashish are Specified Substances in the class of Cannabinoids and are prohibited in-competition under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic Committee National Anti-Doping Policies, and the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules, all of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code (the Code) and the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

The rest of their public statement on the matter is equally silly, noting that sanctions “may be further reduced to one month if the athlete satisfactorily completes a treatment program approved by USADA.” (Davis-Woodhall “successfully completed a substance of abuse treatment program regarding her use of cannabis,” and as a result had her “period of ineligibility reduced to one month.”)

It’s just too dumb to believe, only it’s true. In fact, even the USADA doesn’t even appear believe in their own actions, and attempt to throw their bosses, the World Anti-Doping Agency, under the bus in the same letter:

WADA seeks input on each year’s updated version of the Prohibited List. USADA has advocated and will continue to advocate to WADA, the rule maker, to treat marijuana in a fairer and more effective way to identify true in-competition use.

In the meantime, we can only assume that the sanctions leveled in this case mean that, “out-of-competition” or not, Davis-Woodhall is assumed to have performed track and field better than normal on account of cannabis. If that’s not what they believe, then these athletic overseers are as cruel as they are ignorant.