WADA: Cocaine or cannabis are no longer doping substances in athletes

The recreational drugs They will no longer be considered doping substances as of this 2021 by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA for its acronym in English), after the agency was convinced that the cocaine or marijuana, among other, do not improve the performance of athletes.

The WADA made official at the beginning of the year what had been anticipated months ago. On your 2021 Prohibited list redesigned and more suitable for athletes which came into force on January 1, the agency gives a qualifier of “substances of abuse” to recreational drugs: the cocaine, diamorphine (heroin), methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA / ecstasy) and tetrahidrocannabinol (THC / Marijuana), but no longer doping substances.

It was at the end of 2017 when the World Anti-Doping Agency began its review process for this new version that has come into discussion among specialists due to the dilemma of allow athletes to use such drugs, because together with the heroin and the ecstasy they are the substances of greatest concern. Regarding the cannabis, opinions are divided since WADA cannot violate the freedoms of the countries that have legalized the use of marijuana in its different status: medicinal / scientific or recreational.

Such cases are Uruguay with total freedom, Holland, Spain, Czech Republic, Jamaica, Portugal and Costa Rica with limitations on consumption, places, quantities of possession, sale and cultivation.


These substances were listed as prohibited by WADA, so should not be consumed under any circumstances by athletes.

A controversial case was that of the Peruvian striker Paolo Guerrero prior to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The penalty was one year suspension by FIFA, but the player and his lawyers demonstrated that the consumption was for a tea with coca leaves and with the argument of “cross contamination”, they reduced the punishment.

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Under the new Agency process, both players would have had suspensions of 1 to 3 months because cocaine is already classified as a substance of abuse; because there is no scientific evidence to show an improvement in the performance of the athlete in question.

This means that if an athlete can demonstrate that the use of any of these four substances was out of competition and not related to athletic performance, the suspension imposed will now be three months and it can be reduced to one month if the athlete completes a rehabilitation program.


The athlete must demonstrate that the consumption of any of the substances was part of a recreational activity and out of competition. A competition period, in any sport, begins at 11:59 p.m. on the day prior to the celebration of the competition in which the athlete participates, and ends when the sample collections are completed.

A positive for these drugs will be analyzed from the point of view of when was the consumption and compared with the calendar of activity of the athlete.


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