Pot still pro­hib­ited for ath­letes

Medicine Hat News - - SPORTS - LORI EWING

TORONTO Canada’s anti-dop­ing watch­dogs are warn­ing ath­letes that while cannabis use will be­come le­gal for the av­er­age Cana­dian as of next week­end, a toke re­mains taboo for them.

CBD is the short form for “cannabid­iol,” a cannabis ex­tract. But the Cana­dian Cen­tre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) would rather ath­letes re­mem­ber it as “Can Be Dan­ger­ous.”

The mes­sage is part of a CCES so­cial me­dia cam­paign to alert ath­letes to po­ten­tial pit­falls around the le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana. The drug re­mains on the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency’s banned sub­stance list, and Paul Melia, the pres­i­dent and CEO of the CCES, said that Cana­dian ath­letes need to re­mem­ber that.

“No. 1, we wanted to make sure ath­letes didn’t con­fuse (le­gal­iza­tion) with whether or not mar­i­juana was banned in com­pe­ti­tion in sport. It does re­main banned,” Melia said.

The CCES, which con­ducts dop­ing tests across Cana­dian sport on be­half of the Cana­dian Anti-Dop­ing Pro­gram, doesn’t screen for cannabis in out-of­com­pe­ti­tion tests. The con­cern, how­ever, is that an ath­lete might use cannabis in a recre­ational set­ting and the drug might still be in the ath­lete’s sys­tem and show up in an in-com­pe­ti­tion test.

Be­cause mar­i­juana is fat-sol­u­ble, it can be de­tected in the body weeks af­ter it’s in­gested, and de­pends on sev­eral fac­tors in­clud­ing how it was con­sumed and how much. And the time it takes to clear the sys­tem dif­fers from per­son to per­son.

“The hu­man bi­ol­ogy/phys­i­ol­ogy and how an in­di­vid­ual pro­cesses and elim­i­nates mar­i­juana from the sys­tem is quite in­di­vid­ual, it is quite re­lated to the meta­bolic rate or size, all kinds of is­sues, so we can’t even pro­vide a rule of thumb, so (ath­letes) have to be very care­ful,” Melia said.

The CCES has lob­bied for the re­moval of cannabis from WADA’s banned list. Other coun­tries ar­gue ve­he­mently against re­moval.

“There are coun­tries like the U.S. and Ja­pan, to name two, who feel very strongly about mar­i­juana be­ing an il­licit drug and a gate­way drug to other drugs, and part of the war on drugs in the U.S., and they don’t want to send a mes­sage in any way, shape or form that it’s OK to use mar­i­juana,” Melia said.

WADA has raised the re­port­ing thresh­old of cannabis in an at­tempt to rule out recre­ational use. Labs used to re­port the pres­ence of mar­i­juana when it would found to be above 50 nanograms per millil­itre. That’s been raised to 150 nng/ml.

The big­gest area of cannabis con­cern, Melia said, is Cana­dian univer­sity sports — U Sports — which pro­duces the “vast ma­jor­ity” of mar­i­juana anti-dop­ing rule vi­o­la­tions in Canada.

David Gold­stein, U Sports’ chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, pointed out the high num­ber re­flects the fact there are 15,000 ath­letes com­pet­ing in Cana­dian uni­ver­si­ties.

“We wanted to make sure ath­letes didn’t con­fuse (le­gal­iza­tion) with whether or not mar­i­juana was banned in com­pe­ti­tion in sport. It does re­main banned.” – Paul Melia, Cana­dian Cen­tre for Ethics in Sport pres­i­dent and CEO

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