Double Standard on Pot, Alcohol Needs to Change

Olympic officials will have to accept reality eventually, Nancy Armour writes
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2021 5:20 PM CDT
Double Standard on Pot, Alcohol Needs to Change
Sha'Carri Richardson celebrates after winning the fourth heat during the women's 100-meter run at the US Olympic Track and Field Trials last month in Eugene, Ore.   (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Marijuana use is legal in 18 states, and it's been decriminalized in another 12. One of the states where it's legal is Oregon, where a test found traces of pot in Sha'Carri Richardson's system, tossing out the sprinter's 100-meter victory at the US Olympic Track and Field Trials. That's because marijuana is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of prohibited substances. But alcohol isn't. Guzzling a six-pack would have brought no penalties, Nancy Armour writes in an opinion piece in USA Today. That's a situation that she says needs to change. "Prohibiting athletes from using one but not the other reflects an antiquated attitude that people who smoke pot are all glassy-eyed losers toking up in their basements when, in reality," Armour writes, "they are doctors, lawyers, business professionals and, yes, elite athletes. Just like the people who consume alcohol."

The NFL and NBA have made the change. A positive marijuana test doesn't bring a suspension anymore for an NFL player. And the NBA no longer does random marijuana tests. Neither pot nor alcohol should be overused, of course, but it's hard to see why this sport treats them differently. Eventually, Armour says, "even Olympic officials are going to have to acknowledge reality"; Richardson's Olympics participation now is in doubt. Her case might move up the day when the agency concedes that policing for marijuana use is a waste of time and resources, but it's not happening yet. "That's no consolation to an athlete who has a small window to be at the top of her sport," Armour writes, "and an even smaller window to win its biggest prize." The full piece can be found here. (More Olympics stories.)

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