GENEVA – Marijuana will remain banned in sports after the World Anti-Doping Agency on Friday rejected calls to change its status as a banned substance.

After the incident with American sprinter Sha’Kary Richardson, who did not go to the Olympics in Tokyo last year. She served a one-month suspension after testing positive at the national trials, where she won the 100 meters. The sprinter said she smoked marijuana to cope with her mother’s death.

In a separate decision, the opiate tramadol will be banned from athletes’ competition from January 2024, WADA’s executive committee decided at a meeting in Sydney, Australia.

The cannabis-using athletes consulted with WADA-appointed experts, whose findings included that it was “contrary to the spirit of sport”, the agency said.

Therefore, THC positive tests at races and events, although not during training, may continue to result in bans for one month.

The debate is “difficult,” WADA Director General Olivier Nigli acknowledged on Friday.

“WADA is also mindful that several requests to remove THC from the Prohibited List are not supported by thorough peer review,” he said. “We also recognize that the laws of many countries — as well as broad international regulatory laws and policies — support keeping cannabis on the List at this time.”

WADA also noted a high threshold level for registering a positive test for THC that is “consistent with an athlete with significant impairment or frequent use.”

Tramadol has been a problem in cycling, so its use in racing has been banned since 2019.

After the Tour de France in July, Naira Quintana was disqualified from sixth place when two samples showed traces of a synthetic painkiller. He was not disqualified and is challenging his disqualification at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“The abuse of tramadol, with its dose-dependent risks of physical dependence, opiate dependence and overdose in the general population, is of concern and has led to its status as a controlled drug in many countries,” WADA said.

The in-competition ban will take effect in January 2024, allowing time for athletes and team doctors to be trained and “to address the safe clinical use of tramadol,” WADA said.

The Union Cycliste Internationale’s medical regulations state that “adverse side effects of tramadol are frequently reported: dizziness, drowsiness and loss of concentration, which are incompatible with cycling and pose a danger to other participants”.

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