Scientists question ban on cannabis

The expulsion of an American judo player from the London 2012 Olympic Games on Monday after he tested positive for marijuana prompted scientists to question the sense behind the drug’s inclusion on the World Anti Doping Agency’s (WADA) banned list.

Few experts think marijuana, or cannabis -- whether it’s eaten or smoked -- can do much to enhance the kind of speed, strength, power or precision that Olympic athletes strive for. And many wonder whether the expensive time and effort of sporting drug testers might be better spent catching serious cheats who top up their blood with EPO or pop anabolic steroids to boost testosterone levels and muscle growth. “There’s no evidence cannabis is ever performance enhancing in sport, and since its use is legal in a number of countries, there’s no reason for it to be banned by WADA,” said David Nutt, a professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London.

Under WADA’s rules, athletes face a two-year ban if cannabis is found in their system while they are in competition.

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