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 #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families. Linda writes extensively about how youth sports can hijack families, and family outings, non-sports activities and bonding time are lost in the pursuit of the next club team game or travel tournament.
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Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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