By Ken Reed
Okay, so Sha’Carri Richardson knew the rules regarding marijuana use and broke them in a moment of high emotional stress after learning her biological mom had died. She owned up to her decision and isn’t looking for empathy.
But please. Come on. Does smoking some pot — which is no more a performance-enhancing drug than taking several shots of Tito’s vodka before approaching the starting line — really require taking away an opportunity to compete in the Olympic Games, something Richardson has worked hard for across many years?
Of course it doesn’t. When it comes to their thinking on marijuana, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are stuck in the 1960’s.
Nobody in their right mind thinks using marijuana enhances the performance of a 100 meter sprinter. Marijuana slows reaction time (not helpful in getting out of the blocks in a short sprint, or running faster than the fastest women in the United States).
When announcing Richardson’s positive test and suspension, the USADA cited a 2011 research report which included this beauty: Marijuana use is “not consistent with the athlete as role model for young people around the world.”
Please. Stop with the moralizing.
USADA and WADA have way overstepped their bounds. They should focus on truly performance-enhancing substances, not delivering sermons on morality.
Research by a WADA scientist in 2018 concluded there is no direct evidence of performance-enhancing effects on athletes from marijuana use. Well, duh. Then change your silly, out-dated rules!
WADA and USADA also need to catch up with the rest of the world. Marijuana use, for medicinal and recreational purposes, is now legal in many parts of the United States and around the world. Every major pro sports league in the United States has significantly loosened their policies on marijuana in recent years. The NFL has eliminated marijuana suspensions and the NBA has stopped random testing.
Kicking Richardson out of the Olympics for smoking a joint is sad. And it was completely avoidable. WADA and USADA simply needed to update their marijuana policies through the years.
But WADA and USADA are frozen in the stone age. And, as a result, Richardson will have to watch the 100m race in the Olympics from a couch like the rest of us.
That’s just not right.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. He previously covered the Los Angeles Dodgers for The Athletic. His new book is titled “How to Beat a Broken Game: The Rise of the Dodgers in a League on the Brink.” We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
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Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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