The 2016 Summer Olympics are underway in Rio, and some athletes may be breathing a sigh of relief because the World Anti-Doping Agency, or WADA, has recently loosened its rules on cannabis use for Olympic athletes.
According to a recent article in USA Today, they’ve loosened the threshold for a positive test for cannabis from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150 ng/ml. The article states that: ‘Ben Nichols, a spokesperson for WADA, said the raising of the threshold is meant to catch only athletes who smoke during the period of a competition. The drug isn’t prohibited out of competition.’
Raising the threshold level to 150 nanograms per milliliter means that an athlete would have to be a “pretty dedicated cannabis consumer” to test positive, according to Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
“Our information suggests that many cases do not involve game or event-day consumption,” Nichols said. “The new threshold level is an attempt to ensure that in-competition use is detected and not use during the days and weeks before the competition.”
Athletes who have previously tested positive for THC during competitions have faced suspensions that range from three months to a year, usually dependent on if any other banned substances, such as steroids or cocaine, were also found during testing. Last year, the U.S. wrestler Stephany Lee was kept off the Olympic team because she tested positive at the Olympic trials.
The International Olympic Committee originally banned drugs like marijuana and cocaine because of their illegality, and because they violate the “spirit of sport.” But, because of changing laws and views about marijuana, it was decided that because it wasn’t a drug that has any obvious performance-enhancing qualities, nor does it help develop greater athletic skills, loosening the restrictions for the amount of THC found in an athlete’s bloodstream isn’t as much of an issue as it was in years past.