USADA Relaxes Policy Around Cannabis In UFC Anti-Doping Program

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has relaxed its policies regarding cannabis and carboxy-THC in their tests done on UFC fighters. The testing agency announced on Thursday that now suspensions related to cannabis will only happen in specific circumstances.

“A UFC athlete who tests positive for carboxy-THC (the main psychoactive component in cannabis) will face a violation by USADA only if evidence demonstrates the substance was taken for performance-enhancing purposes such as alleviating pain or anxiety,” said the anti-doping program in a statement.

The statement said that the change in policy will allow fighters to use CBD products that contain “THC and other natural cannabinoids” as long as they aren’t taking it for the aforementioned “performance-enhancing purposes.”

USADA explained the change, noting that they did it to not punish “fighters who may need treatment for substance abuse.”

Suspensions have been handed out to fighters in the past for to carboxy-THC. UFC welterweight Kelvin Gastelum was given a nine-month suspension back in May of 2020 after one of his tests flagged the substance. The suspension was his second because of it, with the previous one being handed out in 2017.

The change in USADA’s testing for THC does not apply to athletic commissions that regulate events. Notably, the Nevada Athletic Commission has been known to hand out suspensions and fines for athletes who had cannabis detected in their drug tests.

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