Can Olympic Athletes Use CBD?

Can Olympic Athletes Use CBD?

Can Olympic athletes use CBD and who makes this decision?

With the 2020 Olympic Games quickly approaching, many are wondering if Olympic athletes are able to reap the same benefits that millions of consumers are seeing from CBD. This decision, along with all other approved substances, lies in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).


WADA was established in 1999 in response to a massive doping scandal at the 85th edition of Tour de France held in 1998. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) brought together all the countries involved for a World Conference on Doping in order to properly mitigate the problems they were facing. Since its establishment, WADA has continued to monitor the World Anti-Doping Code by governing the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods, among other things.

Changes to the Prohibited List

In their 2017 Prohibited List, WADA originally banned the use of Cannabidiol but went on to release a statement in September of 2017 that specified they would remove CBD from the 2018 Prohibited List. The statement goes on to warn athletes who use CBD to watch out for CBD extracted from cannabis plants since they “may also contain varying concentrations of THC, which remains a prohibited substance” (

Why Changes Were Made

In response to this change, WADA has responded, “[r]ecent scientific literature shows that synthetic cannabidiol is not a cannabimimetic. Therefore, cannabidiol no longer fulfills two of the three criteria to be considered for inclusion on the list” ( A cannabimimetic has been defined as “any substance with similar pharmacological effects to those of cannabis” (

Countries that Allow CBD vs Ones that Don’t

Even though WADA now allows Olympic athletes to use CBD, certain countries still need time to catch up. As of writing this article, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and Russia remain on the list of countries that still name CBD as an illegal substance. Some argue that this may give certain Olympic athletes an advantage as many athletes are using CBD while others are unable to in their home countries.

The 2020 Olympic Games

Since CBD has gained popularity since the last Olympic games, it will be interesting to see the role it plays in 2020, and the attention it will garner, if any. 

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