U.S. track and field Olympian Tara Davis-Woodhall tested positive for THC, the psychoactive chemical found in cannabis, marijuana and hashish, in a sample collected on Feb. 17, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency reported. This was after Davis-Woodhall won the long jump title with a 6.99-meter jump at the 2023 USA Indoor Track and Field Championship in Albuquerque, New Mexico, earlier this year.
The agency announced the penalties on Tuesday, including a one-month suspension Davis-Woodhall completed last week. Unfortunately, the penalty did not save her national title, as USADA announced the long jumper would be stripped of any “medals, points and prizes” obtained.
THC is a special category of banned substance that results in a three-month sanction if the athlete in question can prove their use of the substance occurred outside of competition and was unrelated to their sports performance. The sanction can further be reduced to one month if the athlete completes an approved treatment program.
This comes almost two years after Sha’Carri Richardson’s dismissal from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for testing positive for cannabis. Thus, the American sprinter lost her chance to compete at the 2021 U.S. Olympics. Richardson was also under a one-month suspension. Although she had qualified with a 10.86-second 100-meter dash, which would have made her a gold medal contender, Richardson had her title stripped and forfeited her results.
According to CBS News, USA Track and Field opted not to choose Richardson as part of the women’s 4×100-meter relay pool after she finished her suspension, effectively keeping the Olympic hopeful off the team.
Her ban sparked a media firestorm, igniting debate around whether marijuana should be on the banned list, despite being decriminalized across the U.S. Per AP News, world regulators are consistently updating the banned list and increased the THC threshold for positive tests to match that of pro sports leagues around the world. But the World Anti-Doping Agency still classifies THC as a “substance of abuse” because it is frequently used outside the context of sports.
USADA acknowledged the debate in its statement on Tuesday, 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.”
Twitter reacted as expected, upset by the news and raising questions about the WADA and USADA once more.
Tara Davis-Woodhall stripped of her national title for weed. i think that’s so stupid. weed isn’t a performance enhancing drug and she didn’t take it before her race so what’s the problem?
— paxx (@gofindtyler) April 25, 2023
Why does this keep happening when 23 states are full legal, and with 39 states having some form of legality?
— The Dales Report (@TheDalesReport) April 26, 2023
This kind of thing, to me, is plain stupid. Show me the studies where cannabis is shown to significantly enhance performance at sporting events, or stop disqualifying athletes for something that is completely legal in many of the United States.https://t.co/Y0mM4CEUg4
— Dr. Dan, a Common Tater 🥔 (@ddbprof) April 26, 2023
As of Wednesday, Davis-Woodhall has yet to publicly address the suspension or post on Twitter since the announcement.