Just months after U.S. 100-meter champion Sha'Carri Richardson lost her spot at the Tokyo Olympics because of a positive cannabis test, the World Anti-Doping Agency made plans to review the drug's status as a banned substance.
WADA announced on Tuesday that an advisory group will conduct a scientific study to review whether marijuana should remain banned. The study will take place in 2022. The drug will remain on the banned substance list in the meantime.
"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," a WADA statement reads, per AFP. "Cannabis is currently prohibited in competition and will continue to be in 2022."
Richardson ban prompted calls for change
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency suspended Richardson from competition for one month starting June 28 following the revelation of her positive test, citing WADA regulations. It also stripped her of her 100-meter title at the U.S. Olympic Trials, prohibiting her from competing in the event in Tokyo. USA Track & Field ultimately left her off the Olympic roster rather than invite her to compete in the 4x100 relay, which took place after the completion of her suspension.
Richardson admitted to ingesting cannabis in the days leading up to the June 19 Olympic Trials. Her suspension drew widespread outrage and calls for a review of rules banning cannabis in international competition that came from as high as the White House and the USADA.
Critics argued that the drug is legal or decriminalized in multiple U.S. states and in countries around the world, and is not a performance enhancer. Richardson tested positive in Oregon, where cannabis is legal. USADA CEO Travis Tygart called Richardson's situation "heartbreaking" while noting that "the rules are clear."