Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and Marion Jones. What do they have in common? If they took marijuana instead of crazy steroids before their events they’d still be disgraced Olympians.
You would think a wise and advanced civilization could make up their minds about this. Unfortunately we don’t live on that planet. According to the World Doping Agency cannabis is on a list of banned substances for international sports. It has, however; been amended from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150 nanograms per mililiter in 2013. Is that a lot? Who knows. The Canadian Center for Ethics in Sports (CCES) doesn’t think it belongs on the list at all. So lets look at this hot button issue a little closer shall we? The real question is, should marijuana be considered a performance enhancing drug?
Canada Makes Olympic History
Lets go back in time to the year of our lord nineteen hundred and ninety eight. It’s the Nagano Olympics. Canada’s hockey dream team is about to get eliminated in a stupid break away contest. But before that disaster a little known snow border named Ross Rebagliati is about to make history…for all the wrong reasons.
Ross Rebagliati won the gold for Canada in giant slalom. For a brief moment the nation was full of pride and love for our new hero. Shortly after a familiar feeling was beginning to creep into the Canadian psyche. That feeling was disappointment, shame and then a lot of questions. We’ve been through this whole situation before with that Ben Johnson lad who made history a decade prior.
It was later revealed that Ross Rebagliati tested positive for THC, the best part of a marijuana. He was 2 nanograms over the limit of 15 nanograms which is so low I think you receive 10 nanograms into your system just for saying the word marijuana.
Rebagliati was stripped of his gold medal and was considered a joke in the media. He was parodied on Saturday Night Live and the butt of jokes on all the late night monologues. Don’t count him out yet though. Once everyone stopped laughing they starting asking, wait, how did marijuana help him win gold?
Imagine, a snowboarder on marijuana being controversial. That’s like being shocked the stripper you fell in love with has a cocaine problem. Marijuana did not help Ross Rebagliati win gold. Talent won him gold. Thankfully the World Doping Agency reversed their decision and gave him his gold medal back. Now he moved from joke to hero and this nation couldn’t be prouder.
What’s kind of ironic though is that Rebagliati is a firm believer that marijuana is performance enhancing. He is currently an advocate and entrepreneur for medical marijuana. His argument is that cannabis can help with concentration and CBD can help reduce inflammation while reducing stress and anxiety. Just as long as it’s not over 150 nanograms.
Reggie Williams. Football’s pothead friend.
Reggie Williams was on top of the football world in the 2000’s. Williams was a first round draft pick going 9th overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. As a wide receiver he had quite a career until he got caught with the whacky tabacky.
In 2006 his troubles started. He was arrested and caught with possession of marijuana in 2006 and a DWI in 2007. While the charges were eventually dismissed in each case he had to to attend the NFL’s “pretrial intervention program”. Sounds a lot like forced confession school but hey- maybe he couldn’t afford a better lawyer.
The NFL is the most progressive league in the world is a statement no one’s ever said out loud. With a straight face. It shouldn’t come as a shock that their views on marijuana would come off as a little old fashion. To be fair this is the 2000’s we are talking about. People had real issues to worry about like the President of the United States being a dangerous moron. My actual point, they weren’t the only sports league that had marijuana listed as a banned substance.
Reggie Williams was the NFL’s “public enemy number one” because of testing positive for the banned substance. Yes you can argue he knew the rules. I don’t personally know his intentions only his actions. His action was to smoke (I assume) a joint to deal with a the pain of an on-going injury. Also to have some fun. Should he be downing opioids because that evil drug is actually legal? History will look at marijuana prohibition as what we all know it today. Filled with propaganda and it’s prohibition has nothing to do with improving social welfare.
In a 2017 interview published by Zach Harris Reggie Williams responds to the fairness of the NFL’s drug policy:
“It is not fair because the initial premise of why marijuana is a Schedule I drug is a false premise. It shouldn’t be anywhere near the red light that it is. It’s a natural medicine. We need to be able to explore scientifically the medical benefits of marijuana. Secondarily, marijuana, in my opinion, has been used to target the African-American community, in particular. It has been a social tool of unrest and oppression, in football as well as society.”
How maybe people have you heard advocating for EPO and/or human growth hormone? Isn’t it interesting that when Lance Armstrong or Roger Clemens get caught with steroids they become pariahs? When Reggie Williams or Ross Rebagliati get caught with pot they’re heroes. They’re heroes because they will be on the right side of history and we all know it.
E – Sport Superstar Junkies?
E-sports is a new form of competition that will pretend to be sports. It confuses me because I love sports. I love video games. I love sports video games. I do not see how watching someone else play a game would interest me. Why am I wasting my time watching you play when I could play? Why am I working at my job at the poop factory when I could get good at video games and be considered a pro athlete?
I’m sorry I’m getting off topic. If there is one “sport” that an “athlete” could benefit from marijuana, it has to be e-sports. It can stimulate the mind to keep you hyper focused. It can also affect your mood so just in case playing video games for a living is a big bummer, you have THC running through your veins while trying to make the right play- I mean hit the right button.
Now this might sound like another example of the man trying to keep pro e-athletes down but its not. It’s actually a great example for real pro sports leagues to follow.
On a reddit post ESL’s head of communications, Anna Rozwandowicz desribed the rules and how they will be enforced. The gist of it is, the ESL will model their doping policy after the World Doping Agency. That means that marijuana will be on the list of banned substances. That being said they will only test for marijuana use before or during the competition. Yes it’s true that THC can stay in your system for months but players will not be punished for using outside the dates of the tournament. It remains to be seen if this is easy to prove. However this is a more mature doping policy then punishing you for a photo of you hitting a bong on your own time.
The ESL is a more evolved policy because it recognizes that cannabis is enjoyed recreationally. Even in pitch red states. Punishing someone for being high on marijuana while playing should happen. It’s no different than being intoxicated at your job. Does it enhance your ability to win at video games? It’s debatable but sounds like a very fun experiment.
Should it be banned?
Yes. If I were a general manager or owner of a professional sports team I need to know who is high at work. Marijuana has many great qualities and I believe people need it to deal with anxiety and injuries. That includes professional athletes. But if they are consuming marijuana on their own time and not on gameday they shouldn’t be punished. Being intoxicated at work should be.
Is marijuana a performance enhancer?
No. Not in the sense of human growth hormone or steroids. I can’t believe that a scrawny athlete would gain 50lbs in muscle in a year because he hit the bong one too many times. Of course this isn’t a drug that helps build physical muscle it’s cerebral.
So is baseball. Will someone be able to hit 50 homers because they smoke in the afternoon? Win the Tour de France? Tackle a super fast wide receiver? Score 50 goals a season in the NHL?
Marijuana should be banned but not because it’s a performance enhancer. It should be banned because it’s something you should do at home away from your job. Just like booze.
According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health:
Cannabis use is more prevalent among some athletes engaged in high-risk sports, but there is no evidence of performance-enhancing or causal effects.