Cannabidiol will be removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited list beginning in 2018, WADA announced Friday. Cannabidiol, most commonly known as CBD, is a cannabinoid contained in cannabis. Currently, all cannabinoids are prohibited in-competition by WADA.
CBD is a cannabinoid with a wider scope of therapeutic benefits even in small doses. Athletes are appreciating the fact that hemp-based CBD can reduce pain and injuries, inflammation, and muscle spasm even without the help of prescription drugs. The post-routine recover and the eventual healing process after concussive injuries are shorter, making possible to get back faster into training. Research is progressing, and the neuroprotective effects of Cannabidiol in the brain are now studied for treating sports concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
In most countries the law is partially spoiling cannabis’ actual and future promises for sports medicine. One big concern for the athletes that use cannabis is that its compounds may show in the drug tests providing false positives to antidoping controls. Topical cannabis products such as oils and balms do not show up in any drug test, no matter the CBD/THC ratio, as the skin acts as a barrier preventing these substances to reach high concentrations in the bloodstream. Ingested, smoked or vaporized CBD shouldn’t be a concern since CBD is a legal substance in all countries of the world.
Effective chronic pain management with minimal side-effects is a challenge for patients, athletes and physicians. CBD and THC are proven analgesic and anti-inflammatory agents, and the advantage of CBD stays in the possibility of using it both during and after exercise thanks to the absence of psychotropic effects. The same anti-inflammatory action of both Cannabidiol and THC may protect heart, lungs, and brain right after an injury, and during its treatment. The reduction of muscle spasms is another post-workout application of CBD extracts, while the anti-emetic effect of this cannabinoid may help athletes reducing nausea.
Finally, the role of CBD in sleep regulation is another interesting effect athletes are searching for. A good quality sleep each night is fundamental for muscles growth and recover. The quality of sleep can seriously influence athletes’ performances, and pre-performance stress can turn in restless nights. The relaxing and sedative effects of cannabinoids are well known, with many people reporting better sleep patterns and reduction of insomnia. The hemp-based products with high amounts of CBD are preferred for improving sleep quality, thus providing a natural physical and mental recovery.
CBD was brought to light for MMA fans by Diaz in 2016. After falling to Conor McGregor by majority decision in the main event of UFC 202, Diaz was seen using a vape pen at the post-fight press conference. When asked about it, Diaz said he was vaping CBD.
“It’s CBD,” Diaz said. “It helps with the healing process and inflammation, stuff like that. So you want to get these for before and after the fights, training. It’ll make your life a better place.”
Cannabidiol, unlike fellow cannabinoid THC, does not have psychoactive properties. Instead, it is used mostly for medicinal use, to treat pain, anxiety and inflammation.
Diaz was given a public warning by USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping partner, because he admitted use of cannabinoids in competition. At the time, USADA’s in-competition window ended six hours after the fight. That, too, has changed. Earlier this year, the UFC and USADA changed the UFC’s anti-doping policy to make it so the in-competition window closes after the post-fight drug test is taken.
If Diaz vaped now in a post-fight press conference, he would not be flagged by USADA if he had already taken his post-fight drug test. Beginning Jan. 1, Diaz could vape CBD in the pre-fight press conference if he wanted to, since it will no longer be prohibited at all.
“Cannabidiol is no longer prohibited,” WADA wrote on its website. “Synthetic cannabidiol is not a cannabimimetic; however, cannabidiol extracted from cannabis plants may also contain varying concentrations of THC, which remains a prohibited substance.”
USADA follows WADA standards, which means this will be applicable for all UFC fighters when the changes are enforced next year.
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