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Why did World Anti-Doping Agency remove CBD from their banned substances?

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Great news for the world of sports and CBD! The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its banned substances allowing Olympic athletes to take CBD either for recover or as an enhancement. This article is going to cover the motive behind this change and the correlation between CBD and sports.

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol or CBD is a compound derived from hemp plants. To understand how CBD helps athletes in their recovery or performance, we’ll need to find out how it interacts with the body. Every human being has a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This extensive regulatory system controls almost everything that keeps us up and running.

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The ECS regulates various vital functions such as appetite, pain, and even mood. The human body can naturally produce endocannabinoids (neurotransmitters) in small amounts. These key neurotransmitters drive the receptors to support the aforementioned functions. CBD acts as an extra supply of endocannabinoids to enhance the functions of the ECS.

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is a foundation created by the International Olympic Committee. Its purpose is to prevent and control the unauthorized or suspicious use of enhancing drugs such as steroids, androstenedione, and erythropoietin.

CBD has been included in the list of banned substances for as long as anyone could remember, primarily because of its federal interdiction. This changed in January 2018 when cannabidiol was officially dismissed from the list. Now, athletes around the world can use the compound for anything from recovery to pre-performance aid.

CBD and Sports

Cannabis and sports go hand and hand. In 2015 WADA discovered that many athletes used CBD for personal or performance reasons. Consequently, most of them lost their titles and of course, reputation due to illegal cannabis use.

One of those athletes is Michael Phelps, the most beloved and decorated Olympic athlete this world has ever seen. Michael Phelps was ejected for three months for cannabis use. Another Olympic athlete suffered a harsher fate; Spanish gymnast Gervasio Deferr lost all of his titles due to illegal use.

Today, athletes are finally speaking up on the matter. Former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer became so overwhelmed by what CBD has done for him that he went on to become a renowned advocate of CBD use.

Research and Studies

Although athletes have been using the compound for decades, CBD is still considered new. Right now, the market is way ahead of the research and studies, but researchers are taking an interest, enticed by promising initial data. Small trials are currently underway studying the effect of CBD on pain, anxiety, and other health-related issues but nothing concrete yet. To give you an idea of how fast things are moving, National Institutes of Health funding for CBD studies went from zero in 2014 to an estimated $16 million in 2018.

Times Are Changing

When an important foundation like WADA openly states that athletes can use CBD in the most prestigious gathering in human existence, you know times are changing for the better. While the WADA made it clear the compound has been removed from the banned substance list, governments around the world will have to absorb this information and follow up with their own set of policies. For example, athletes from China and many other countries are now looking at an unprecedented dilemma since CBD is still forbidden.


Although the new ruling from WADA opens up a world of possibilities and partnerships, there is a dilemma worth considering. If some athletes are free to use the compound for faster recoveries while others are not permitted to enjoy these benefits, are they really competing on equal terms? Some will agree; some will disagree. Since CBD is not a performance-enhancing drug, the compound is not going to affect the outcome of the athletes' performance in any way. CBD doesn’t make you run faster, and it doesn’t make you swim faster.

But the dilemma is apparent, and it might unleash another wave of concerns in the Olympic games. But the bottom line is using narcotics to enhance one’s performance is cheating; however, consuming natural plant-derived products to recover from the unparalleled intensity of the Olympic Games is another matter entirely.

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