Thanks to changes in WADA policies, Olympic athletes can use CBD legally for the first time.
A new champion will be crowned when the 2020 Summer Olympics debut in Tokyo. We’re not talking gold medals or world records, though. Instead, a new presence will be felt for the first time legally at the Olympics—cannabidiol, or CBD.
The World Anti-Doping Agency, an organization that monitors and fights against the use of drugs in the Olympics, announced in 2018 that CBD had been removed from its list of banned substances. Since the organization’s formation in 1999, all cannabinoids like CBD and THC had been banned for all Olympic athletes. The 2020 Olympics represents the first games in which athletes can legally use CBD without fear of consequence.
Although it isn’t necessarily that simple. Athletes must ensure their CBD oil or supplement doesn’t contain more than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive element in cannabis. In the United States, that isn’t always so easy. Ellipse Analytics tested 250 top-selling CBD products in the country last year and discovered that 45% of them contain over the legal threshold of THC. Even worse, 21% of CBD products boldly claiming they were “THC-free” had detectable levels of THC in them.
Some consumers might not sweat over the inclusion of extra THC in their products. But ingesting a product like that could cause Olympians to fail a drug test. That would be devastating to athletes who trained four years for the event, especially when they though they were playing by the rules.
Still, athletes have embraced CBD in droves. Retired athletes like former NFL athletes Rob Gronkowski and Tiki Barber, as well as former NBA players Paul Pierce, John Salley, and Lamar Odom, have publicly endorsed CBD. Professional golfers like Greg Norman and Bubba Watson have partnered with CBD companies, too. Count Olympic Gold Medalist and US Women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe among the athletes who stand behind the health benefits of CBD. Olympic hurdler and bobsledder Lolo Jones signed a deal with cbdMD, the same company as Watson.
Jones told Yahoo she felt empowered to explore the benefits of CBD once WADA lifted its ban.
“I have done a ton of research on this, and I have tried out different ones because I’m a 37-year-old Olympian,” she said. “I need all the help I can get. When I wake up in the morning, I feel like an 80-year-old sometimes. I’ve aged in dog years.”
Expect more athletes to have similar stances as the Olympics approaches. While some may not be as public with their use as others, it appears that athletes from nontraditional have more permission to use CBD thanks to WADA’s changes. USA Triathlon signed a deal with the CBD company Pure Spectrum last year, becoming the first governing body of a sports organization to do so. Don’t be surprised if we see a future Gold Medalist announce a similar deal following the Olympics this year.