Doping is commonly associated with the use of hormonal agents and strong stimulants, hardly anyone would think that a recreational drug, which is marijuana, could appear on the list of prohibited substances in sport. Meanwhile, in 1992, the IOC medical committee officially recognized the popular “grass” as doping and banned its use by athletes. Where did this idea come from? Does smoking marijuana improve athletic performance?
It is rare for athletes to take up physical activity under the influence of psychoactive substances contained in cannabis leaves, although there are also those who pay attention to the fact that some substances contained in the “grass” dilate the bronchi, so – theoretically – should improve exercise capacity. Unfortunately, scientific studies indicate that smoking marijuana before physical activity increases the load on the heart muscle and accelerates the onset of fatigue. Similarly, in tests requiring dexterity, concentration of attention, distance assessment, and marijuana reflex negatively affected their course. So it is difficult to assume that burning the joint before the test would give better results. So why do athletes smoke?
Competitors often admit that burn-in turns allow them to regenerate after a hard workout, gain distance to the perspective of the upcoming competition or other type of test, calm down, relax, as well as offset the adverse effect of stimulants on the nervous system and well-being. In fact, however, this is an illusory operation. Scientific research indicates that smoking marijuana leads to an increase in the secretion of cortisol called stress hormone, which not only hinders regeneration, but also negatively affects the psyche. So the question arises: why the hell put marijuana on the list of doping substances, if its use does not in any way improve the results?
The World Anti-Doping Code makes it clear that it is prohibited to use substances in sport that may improve athletic performance, that are actually or potentially hazardous to health, or that are incompatible with the spirit of sport. It was also recognized that smoking marijuana can pose a health risk (e.g. by increasing the risk of psychosis), and the fact that intoxication with the ingredients contained in it does not correspond to the idea of sport. Both natural sources of cannabinoids (marijuana, hashish) and synthetic sources of cannabinoids (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabomimetics) are listed on the WADA list in a separate category as substances that are prohibited during the competition.
Cannabis athletes should remember that the metabolites of the compounds described above may persist in the urine for many days, sometimes even weeks.