Good news from WADA for athletes worldwide.
Technically, marijuana is on the World Anti-Doping Agency list of banned drugs, which governs events like the Olympics, because officials consider it to be performance enhancing and a violation of the “spirit of sport.” But in a nod to the growing relaxed attitude toward the drug around the world, the cut-off level for a positive test has been increased for the Sochi Games, allowing for some recreational use prior to the Olympics.
The new threshold for the active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, has been increased from 15 nanograms per millilitre of urine to 150ng/mls. Officials say that means an athlete who smoked some weed before the Olympics, or inhaled second-hand smoke, wouldn’t likely test positive in Sochi. Someone who failed the new test would have to be “a pretty dedicated cannabis consumer,” WADA officials have said.
Officials acknowledge that they have had problems finding the right balance between athletes who use marijuana to cheat and those who just enjoy a toke every now and then.
Arne Ljungqvist, who heads the IOC’s medical commission and is also on WADA’s board, said the changes came after a long debate about the drug. “That’s a reasonable attempt at dealing with a complicated matter and that was agreed upon as the best way to proceed with this particular issue,” he told reporters Saturday in Sochi. “There is a big debate on it.”
In the end, he said WADA came to the conclusion that “marijuana can be a performance enhancing stimulant and it is therefore forbidden in relation to a competition.” However, because marijuana “is a socially more or less an accepted drug being used in social context” the threshold for a positive test during competition was increased.