Tara Davis-Woodhall Suspension Prompts Discussion Of Cannabis Use In Athletics

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Tara Davis-Woodhall Suspension Prompts Discussion Of Cannabis Use In Athletics

U.S. Long Jumper Tara Davis-Woodhall Stripped of National Title for Cannabis Use

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On Tuesday, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced that long jumper Tara Davis-Woodhall had been suspended for one month and stripped of her indoor national title due to a positive test for THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis. The ban was retroactive to the confirmation of a positive test from a sample collected on February 17, after Davis-Woodhall won the long jump title with a 6.99-meter jump at the indoor national championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Positive Test and the Suspension

In a statement, USADA confirmed that Davis-Woodhall’s sample “tested positive for 11-nor-9-carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol (Carboxy-THC) … above the urinary Decision Limit of 180 ng/mL/.” While the athlete has already served the suspension, which began on March 21, the reduced penalty did not save her national title. USADA wrote that Davis-Woodhall was “disqualified from all competitive results obtained on and subsequent to February 17, 2023 … including forfeiture of any medals, points, and prizes.”

The Use of Cannabis in Athletics

Davis-Woodhall’s penalty follows sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson’s high-profile ban during the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo (which took place in 2021) following a positive test. Richardson’s suspension raised the debate over why athletes are still suspended for a drug that has widely been decriminalized in the U.S. and doesn’t enhance performance. The issue of cannabis use in athletics is a complex one, with some arguing that it should not be banned while others maintain that it can be performance-enhancing in some cases.

USADA’s Response

USADA acknowledged the debate in its statement on Tuesday while deferring to rules set by the World Anti-Doping Agency. “USADA has advocated and will continue to advocate to WADA, the rule maker, to treat marijuana in a fairer and more effective way to identify true in-competition use,” the statement reads.

Davis-Woodhall’s Reaction

As of Tuesday evening, Davis-Woodhall had not publicly addressed the suspension or posted on Twitter since it was announced. Per USADA, she “accepted a one-month period of ineligibility for an anti-doping rule violation.”

Conclusion

The use of cannabis in athletics continues to be a contentious issue, with some athletes facing penalties and suspension despite the drug’s widespread decriminalization in the U.S. While USADA acknowledges the debate, it maintains that it must follow rules set by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Athletes are encouraged to familiarize themselves with these rules and the prohibited substances list to avoid unintentional violations.

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