Search Results for: WADA


Nevada State Athletic Commission Eases Up on Marijuana Use

September 11th, 2013 2 Comments Morgan Fox

Last week, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) reported that it was changing its marijuana policies after mounting pressure from MPP, athletes, and promoters who said the strictness and penalties were far too severe and driving athletes to drink or use dangerous drugs.

According to Bleacher Report, the threshold for failing a marijuana test for athletes was raised from 50 ng/mL of THC in the bloodstream to 150 ng/mL, in line with what the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has recommended for global athletic regulatory bodies.

NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer

MPP protested the previous policies with a billboard and petition to the NSAC in March after boxer Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. was suspended and fined $900,000 for testing positive for marijuana metabolites. In May, WADA recommended raising the limit to 150 ng/mL to exclude prior marijuana use that could not possibly contribute to current impairment. The very next month, Marc Ratner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced that it was putting its self-regulatory policies in line with the WADA recommendations.

While it will still be possible to test positive under the new threshold, it will be very difficult for prior marijuana use to disqualify or punish fighters and other athletes. When Nevada makes marijuana legal in 2016, they will truly be able to make the safer choice of substances without fear of unnecessary penalties.

MPP is also pressuring other sports organizations, such as the NFL, to stop punishing players for using marijuana.


Professional Sports Committees Rethinking Marijuana Rules

July 18th, 2013 5 Comments Kate Zawidzki

In May, the organization that regulates the Olympics – the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) – made headlines when it ruled to increase the threshold of permissible marijuana in an athlete’s system from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150 ng/ml.

The WADAwada_maputoballs based their decision on a few key factors, including changes in state marijuana laws, increasing public support for legalization, and the willingness of outed Olympians who were stripped of their medals or disqualified from competition (such as Michael Phelps, Nicholas Delpopolo, and Ross Rebagliati) to talk openly about their personal use. The goal of the new rules is to catch marijuana users who are competing under the influence, rather than those who smoked days or weeks earlier. In other words, the WADA is now treating marijuana like alcohol.

Following suit, the UFC changed their marijuana rules to match the WADA’s just three weeks later. In response to these changes, state athletic commissions have met to discuss raising the marijuana threshold for combat sports. “My personal feeling is that I would much rather focus on obvious performance-enhancing drug use like steroids and blood doping,” Nick Lembo of the Association of Boxing Commissions said. “If I was a trainer, I would much rather have my fighter fighting someone who took marijuana than someone who’s blood doping.”

Given that marijuana is objectively safer than alcohol and does not meet the definition of a performance-enhancing drug, these rule changes are a step in the right direction.


UFC Raises Marijuana Testing Threshold

June 3rd, 2013 7 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Three weeks after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) raised the testing threshold for marijuana metabolites from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150 ng/ml, the UFC announced that it would follow suit.

The new rule will go into effect for all UFC regulated international events, including events held in Brazil.

The announcement came during last Friday’s meeting of the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s Steroid and Drug Testing Advisory Panel, which took place in Las Vegas.

“When we self-regulate around the world, we are going to go the WADA standard of 150,” said UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner. “So we’re starting that immediately.”

Marc Ratner
Marc Ratner

There has been much outcry from the mixed martial arts (MMA) community over the organization’s – and state athletic commissions’ – severe stance on marijuana. The previous threshold of 15ng/ml resulted in Nick Diaz’s suspension and fine, Matt Riddle’s dismissal from UFC, Alex Caceres’ six-month suspension, and Pat Healy’s $130,000 loss in bonuses. The criticism has not been limited to the world of mixed martial arts, however. In March, MPP and boxing advocates publicly decried the $900,000 fine levied on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. with a Las Vegas billboard and a petition to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

The UFC’s evolving opinion of the drug is a positive step in protecting athletes who choose to use a safer substance than alcohol and it will enable regulators to focus their efforts on detecting competitors who take potentially dangerous performance-enhancing drugs. Now is the time for athletic commissions around the country to do the same.


Athletics Update: UFC Punishes Fighters for Marijuana, Not Testosterone

May 15th, 2013 7 Comments Morgan Fox

It looks like Ultimate Fighting Championship and the New Jersey Athletic Control Board have not caught on to the changes in marijuana testing thresholds proposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Fighter Pat Healy has been fined, suspended, and his win changed to a “no contest” after testing positive for marijuana after his victory over Jim Miller two weeks ago.

According to UFC president Dana White, his organization will continue to abide by the standards set by various state athletic commissions when it comes to drugs. He does not, however, seem overly concerned with testosterone replacement therapy, which, while legal, can significantly increase the performance of athletes. This means that it is up to state athletic commissions to heed the advice of WADA.

Pat Healy
Pat Healy

Healy apologized for the incident, saying he made a “very poor choice” and promised to “make a conscious effort to be a better role model within the [mixed martial arts] community.”

He shouldn’t have to apologize. Not for using a substance that is safer than alcohol and does not overtly enhance performance.


World Anti-Doping Agency Proposes Easing Marijuana Restrictions for Athletes

May 15th, 2013 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) raised the threshold for a positive test for marijuana from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150 nanograms per milliliter, significantly reducing the likelihood of detection for athletes who use the drug.

“We wanted to focus on the athletes that abuse the substance in competition,” said Julie Masse, WADA’s director of communications. “This should exclude cases where marijuana is not used in competition.”

Although marijuana is not considered a performance-enhancing drug, WADA included it on its initial list of prohibited substances in 2003 after caving in to pressure from U.S. sports officials.

“From a sports perspective, I was rather ambivalent (toward marijuana),” stated Richard Pound, an attorney who was WADA’s initial chief and still serves on the Foundation Board. “As we morphed into WADA, the USA was very keen to have it included.”

Although marijuana thresholds and testing are vague indicatives rather than precise measurements of use, WADA hopes that the new limit will lessen the chance that responsible recreational users will suffer disciplinary action. In recent years, a number of athletes, some of them legitimate medical marijuana patients, have faced suspensions and huge fines failing post-competition marijuana tests.

“There is no desire to go soft on the list,” WADA’s Athlete Committee announced, “but members want cheaters to be caught for cheating, not for recreational usage.”


U.S. Olympian Nicholas Delpopolo Tests Positive for Marijuana

August 6th, 2012 7 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Nicholas Delpopolo, a Yugoslav-born American judo competitor in the London Olympics, has been disqualified on account of a positive drug test. This is the fifth positive drug test reported by the IOC for this year’s testing program but the first to turn up positive during the competition itself. The 23-year-old tested positive for marijuana metabolites, substances that would appear in the blood for several weeks after consuming marijuana. By way of explanation, he stated that he had recently consumed food that, unbeknownst to him, contained cannabis.

Delpopolo is not the first athlete this year to be disqualified for cannabis, as Scott Morgan explains in his post here. Information from the World Anti-Doping Agency suggests that anti-doping policies in sports are simply concerned with performance-enhancing substances which might give the user an unfair advantage, including stimulants and anabolic steroids. However, caffeine, a stimulant, is not on the list of prohibited substances, while marijuana metabolites are. The justification for this is not clear. Enhancement of athletic performance has not been proven, and there is no evidence that past marijuana use would endanger competitors. No explanation of the inclusion of marijuana on the list is given anywhere on the site. Has the WADA included cannabinoids on its list of prohibited substances out of legitimate concern for fairness in competition, or is this simply a concession to the prohibitionist attitudes of authorities who wish to police athletes’ personal lives?

Medical Marijuana

Senate Candidate Forced to Backtrack After Tasteless Medical Marijuana Jokes

August 16th, 2010 14 Comments Kate Zawidzki

In the latest example of a changing political atmosphere surrounding marijuana issues, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Washington state has been forced to clarify a series of cliché jokes his office made at the expense of medical marijuana research and patients.

Last week, Republican Dino Rossi issued an extremely immature and thoughtless press release criticizing federally funded research being conducted at Washington State University into marijuana’s effect on pain medication. The two-year study by psychology professor Michael Morgan involves injecting rats with synthetic cannabinoids and opiates in order to find ways to improve treatment for people suffering from chronic pain.

Rather than emphasize the great need for this type of research, as well as the proven efficacy of marijuana in helping to manage pain, Rossi decided to revert to hackneyed and unoriginal middle-school level humor. “Washington state taxpayers are tired of their money going up in smoke,” read the release issued by his office. “This bill isn’t going to stimulate anything other than sales of Cheetos.”

Morgan, who received $148,438 in federal stimulus funds from the National Institutes of Health, defended his research in an email to the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

“It is odd that Rossi thinks he knows more about good research than these neuroscientists. The goal of stimulus funds going to research was to create jobs and advance research to improve health care. Contrary to what Rossi’s press release says, I have created jobs. I funded both a graduate and undergraduate student with the $50,000 that I receive each year. It also provided a month of summer salary for me given that the State does not pay professors in the summer. The undergraduate I am currently funding actually graduated in May and would be unemployed if I did not offer her a job,” Morgan wrote.

He said pain treatments cost billions of dollars each year.

“…what we proposed has nothing to do with smoking marijuana or what Rossi implies. It would have been nice if Rossi had checked his facts before trashing research that could be very beneficial. There are millions of Americans suffering from chronic pain. Is Rossi arguing that we should not do research to find better ways to reduce this suffering?”

One day later, a spokesperson for Rossi was put on the defensive, and tried to backtrack by saying “no judgment was made [by the campaign] on the validity of the research.”

This last development is important for one major reason: After years of being considered a third-rail issue that politicians were free to scorn, more candidates and officials are now waking to the reality that marijuana reform issues—and medical marijuana in particular—are very, very popular among voters. As the Rossi campaign has discovered, the most controversial thing about medical marijuana nowadays can be opposing it. Nationally, 81 percent of Americans support medical marijuana.

In another interesting aside, Steve Elliot points out that Rossi this year earned distinction as one of the 11 Most Crooked Candidates in the entire nation, according to a list put together by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.