American track and field star Sha’Carri Richardson’s Olympic dreams went down the gurgler after she tested positive for cannabis.
During the 2020 United States Olympic Trials, Richardson won the 100-meter sprint, but then a urine sample revealed she’d been on the jazz cabbage. She was disqualified. The Sha’Carri Richardson story is very interesting because most people believe weed isn’t a performance-enhancing drug. If anything, being stoned, you’d assume, would be a handicap, and the outpouring of sympathy and outrage after the Richardson verdict was handed down is testament to that. Richardson, whose mother passed away a week before the trials began, said, in an interview on NBC’s Today Show, ‘Don’t judge me, because I am human, I just happen to run a little faster. I apologise for the fact that I didn’t even know how to control my emotions or deal with that during that time.’
No disrespect to Sha’Carri Richardson or her mother, but in my experience (limited though it might be) cannabis has definitely been a performance-enhancing drug. On occasion, I’ve had a pot cookie before a run and hit PB (very happily, I might add, with much swerving and jumping and behaving like gazelle), and, despite not liking golf, after a joint on the second hole, I am basically Tiger Woods. Weed makes you good at sports. But don’t take my word for it—ask Josiah Hesse, author of Runner’s High, a new book about athletes and cannabis.
In Runners High, investigative journalist Hesse meets with athletes and scientists from all over the sporting map and shows that, hey, actually, weed does make you perform better, and almost everyone in professional sports is zortched. For example, former Denver Nuggets basketball player Kenyon Martin, claims 85 per cent of NBA players smoke the Devil’s hedge clippings before games, and ex-Philadelphia Flyer Riley Cote believes at least half of the NHL are bent too. The NFL, though, they’re the most ripped. Former Dallas Cowboy Martellus Bennett estimates that somewhere around 90 per cent of the league are stoned on the field, and ex-Cowboys defensive lineman Shaun Smith confessed he smoked two blunts before every game. ‘I smoked two blunts before every game,’ he said. ‘I feel like nobody can stop me when I was out there. It’s the best thing for me.’
Last week, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released a statement regarding Richardson and their ongoing stance on cannabis in sport: ‘Following receipt of requests from a number of stakeholders, the [executive committee] endorsed the decision of the List Expert Advisory Group to initiate in 2022 a scientific review of the status of cannabis. Cannabis is currently prohibited in competition and will continue to be in 2022.’
Is weed steroids? No, it’s not steroids—that’s ridiculous—but there is a lot of evidence that cannabis can, like, give athletes an advantage over the competition, provided the competition is not, you know… like, if they’re not also doing the thing… … What were we talking about? I might go for a run now.