Is CBD Legal for Athletes?

Yes. Starting at the beginning of 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from the list of prohibited substances – in or out of competition. (Here is the 2019 WADA Prohibited List.) The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) did the same.

There is an important caveat: ONLY CBD was removed from the prohibited list. The psychoactive component of marijuana, THC, is still prohibited in competition, as are synthetic cannabinoids. The specific wording is: “The following cannabinoids are prohibited: Natural cannabinoids, e.g. cannabis, hashish and marijuana. Synthetic cannabinoids e.g. Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other cannabimimetics.”

Interestingly, WADA set a urinary threshold of 150 nanograms per millilitre for THC, which is substantially more lenient than the previous limit of 15 nanograms per millilitre. The higher threshold is designed to lower the risk of an athlete testing positive due to casual use outside of competition. A USA Today article in 2016 quoted Ben Nichols, a spokesperson for WADA as saying, “Our information suggests that many cases do not involve game or event-day consumption. The new threshold level is an attempt to ensure that in-competition use is detected and not use during the days and weeks before competition.”

Maybe you have no plans to earn a pay cheque through athletics. However, whether your goals are to walk 30 minutes three times weekly or crush your next fitness competition, looking at elite athletes can shed insight into your exercise routine. What are the factors that have contributed to their success? Perhaps they use strategies that we can implement.

What differentiates world-class athletes from those who are average?

One word: recovery. Great athletes and those we call “talented” often have a superior ability to recover from hard workouts so they can go back out and push themselves again.

Even if you have no plans on becoming an elite athlete, you likely want to function at your best. In addition, you probably want to be able to stay active long-term as you age. Those who are lifelong athletes need to be able to recover well from workouts to avoid burnout and injury.

When you have a tough workout, you break down your body. Recovery comes when your body repairs itself and becomes stronger than before. During recovery, your body can be inflamed and sore, and you may even feel lethargic.

When you recover well, your body utilizes its natural processes to rebuild itself. Some soreness is normal, but your body soon is just a bit stronger. Repeating that process over and over is what leads to fitness gains.

Poor recovery, however, sometimes leads to decreases in fitness. When your body does not recover well or becomes injured, you are unable to repeat the process that leads to fitness gains.

Megan Rapinoe, the U.S. Soccer superstar has recently signed a sponsorship with a CBD brand. Her first since sponsorship deal since winning the World Cup. Megan Rapinoe is an Olympic gold medallist, two-time Women’s World Cup champion, and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year. She was already working with the brand as a strategic partner and advisor since last year. She was introduced to CBD by her sister Rachel Rapinoe.

“I wanted a healthier, more natural option for pain management, sleep aid, relaxation while flying, and general recovery. I think there is still a lot of stigma around the use of CBD and cannabis in soccer,” Megan responded. “There needs to be greater education so athletes can make an informed decision.”

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