Although the decision was announced months ago, on the 1st January 2020, to start off the new year on the right foot the WADA’s decision came into effect, and the use of CBD was officially approved, in different forms, including oils, sprays, tinctures and cream for athletes around the globe. CBD has now officially been removed from the banned substances list on the WADA website, and the cannabinoid is now labelled as an alternative treatment.
At the beginning of 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) supported the removal of cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and recommended this to governments worldwide. Without this approval by the WHO, the use of CBD in sport around the globe would not have come to fruition and would have taken much longer to get to this stage. The WHO’s decision was a result of meetings that were held with drug experts in November 2018. These experts advised that CBD had therapeutical benefits and in its natural state it was not addictive or harmful. Another organisation that has approved CBD is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States, which approved the use of CBD to treat conditions including multiple sclerosis and two types of childhood epilepsy.
As more research is carried out into the cannabis plant and therefore more information comes to light, consequently, the health and wellbeing benefits of cannabidiol have become more and more accepted. This is evident in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) confirming that is has approved the use of CBD by athletes in professional sports. This ruling by the WADA is a huge step forward for the CBD industry and the sports industry as a whole.
The three requirements for a substance to be considered as doping in sport are that the substance is harmful to health, enhances the athlete’s performance or violates the spirit of sport. The WADA has ruled that CBD does not violate any of these requirements, as unlike marijuana, the cannabinoid has positive research evidence and professional athletes have given testimony that it has assisted them as an alternative treatment for inflammation and pain.
So what changed the WADA’s mind?
Well, CBD is one of many cannabinoids produced in the cannabis plant, however, unlike other components produced in the plant, CBD does not have the psychoactive effects that cannabinoids like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) have. With this in mind, the WADA does not currently authorise the use of any products that contain THC, before or during any sports competitions. Such as marijuana, any synthetic THC products or hashish. The WADA released a statement advising that ‘. athletes should be aware that some CBD oils and tinctures extracted from cannabis plants, may also contain THC and other cannabinoids that could result in a positive test for a prohibited cannabinoid.’
A cannabinoid is a compound produced by the cannabis (marijuana) plant or synthesized as a chemical (synthetic cannabinoid). Of more than 100 cannabinoids in the plant, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive compound, which alters the mind or behavior. Other cannabinoids include cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabigerol (CBG). Since the mid-2000’s, many different synthetic cannabinoids were produced in illegal laboratories and sold as drugs to mimic the effects of THC.