The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) pushed back against Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) statements she made about athlete Sha’Carri Richardson’s suspension from the Olympic Games for using marijuana.
As The Daily Wire reported earlier this month, “Sha’Carri Richardson, who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics last month, [was] suspended from the Olympic team after testing positive for THC. According to The Associated Press, her results from the Olympic trials have been erased, making her ineligible for the 100-meter race in Tokyo.”
In a letter addressed to Ocasio-Cortez and Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the agency noted that it was replying to a letter sent by the representatives on July 2, 2021. The letter was signed by Witold Banka, a former international-level athlete, and president of WADA.
The letter noted, “Since 2007, nearly 200 governments, including the U.S., have ratified the Convention to coordinate the fight against doping in sport and explicitly support WADA’s mission for doping-free sport.”
The agency went on to explain how it makes such decisions regarding its guidelines. “Since 2004, annually, WADA has published the Prohibited List, which identifies the substances prohibited in- and out-of-competition, and in particular sports,” it said.
It made the point that to be included on the Prohibited List, “a substance must satisfy any two of the following three criteria.” It must have “the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance;” represent “an actual or potential health risk to the athlete;” or violate “the spirit of sport.”
“You note that there are a number of countries around the world where cannabis has been legalized to varying degrees. This is a particularly important point in that it highlights that the Prohibited List is a global document that, like the Code and other International Standards, needs to consider the enormous variety in government policies and be cognizant of international narcotics treaties,” it said.
“As a result, some governments have advised WADA to draw a distinction between recreational use of cannabinoids [and other substances of abuse, such as methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and heroin] and competing in international athletic competitions under the influence of these drugs, including cannabinoids,” it went on.
“As has been reported by some media, the U.S. has been one of the most vocal and strong advocates for including cannabinoids on the Prohibited List. The meeting minutes and written submissions received from the U.S. over nearly two decades, in particular from USADA, have consistently advocated for cannabinoids to be included on the Prohibited List,” it added.
“Thus, the argument that some have advanced indicating that U.S. anti-doping stakeholders are bound by antiquated thinking regarding the Prohibited List is not supported by the facts. The consultative process in place allows for modifications to the Prohibited List and the Code, annually. In fact, over time, as your letter recognizes, several such changes have occurred, and there is nothing preventing additional changes consistent with the process I have described,” Banka noted.
Ocasio-Cortez and Raskin’s original letter said that they were writing to express their “dismay” over the one-month suspension of Richardson for the use of marijuana and of other suspensions that have occurred this year because of marijuana use.
They said that the “suspension is the result of USADA’s antiquated prohibition on the use of cannabis products by U.S. athletes,” adding that the marijuana ban “is a significant and unnecessary burden on athletes’ civil liberties.”
Most notably, perhaps, they claimed that the prohibition of marijuana alongside the different treatment of alcohol use and other drugs “reflects anti-drug laws and policies that have historically targeted Black and Brown communities while largely condoning drug use in white communities.”
They added, “Anti-marijuana laws have a particularly ugly history of systemic racism,” without acknowledging that all inclinations show that the rules apply to relevant athletes and have no apparent basis in discrimination.
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