Cannabis Removed from In-Competition Analysis for Student-Athlete Samples

(Ottawa, Ontario – August 20, 2020) – The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) has made changes to how cannabis anti-doping rules are applied for student-athletes who compete only in U SPORTS or Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) events. While cannabis remains a substance that is prohibited in competition under the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Prohibited List, for these athletes only, the CCES will not analyze samples for cannabinoids. Accordingly, these athletes will not receive an adverse analytical finding – AAF, or positive test – for cannabis.

In summary:

  • For a student-athlete who only competes in U SPORTS or CCAA events, a sample will not be analyzed for cannabis and therefore a doping control test will not result in an adverse analytical finding for the presence of cannabis.
  • This revised protocol does not apply and an in-competition sample will be analyzed for the full menu of prohibited substances (including cannabis) for student-athletes who are:
    • Also included in their sport’s National Athlete Pool.
    • Competing in a non-U SPORTS or non-CCAA event, for example, another organization’s national championship.
    • Attending an international event where the CCES does not have jurisdiction, for example, FISU – an International University Sports Federation event or World Championship.

Under the World Anti-Doping Code, anti-doping organizations can elect to analyze samples for less than the full menu of prohibited substances for certain athletes who are neither international-level nor national-level athletes. WADA is aware that the CCES has elected to remove cannabinoids from the menu of prohibited substances analyzed for certain student-athletes who are below the national level.

Historically, cannabis cases in U SPORTS and CCAA have been unrelated to performance enhancement – rather, they are inadvertent violations caused by the fact that cannabis is only prohibited in-competition and can take 30 days to clear from a human body. As a result, the CCES was motivated to use the flexibility allowed within the Code to develop the new protocol for student-athletes who meet the criteria.

The CCES has long advocated for the removal of cannabis from the WADA Prohibited List, and the legalization of cannabis in Canada reflects a shifting societal view of how to manage cannabis education and harm reduction.

Although we will no longer analyze doping control samples for cannabis in the limited circumstances described, student-athletes will remain subject to any conduct and/or sport-related codes of their institutions, the CCAA or U SPORTS, which may continue to place further restrictions on cannabis use.

About the CCES

The CCES is an independent, national, not-for profit organization with a responsibility to administer the Canadian Anti-Doping Program. We recognize that true sport can make a great difference for individuals, communities and our country. The CCES acknowledges funding, in part, from the Government of Canada. We are committed to making sport better by working collaboratively to activate a values-based and principle-driven sport system; protecting the integrity of sport from the negative forces of doping and other unethical threats; and advocating for sport that is fair, safe and open to everyone.

For further information, please contact:

Megan Cumming
Corporate Communications Manager
+1 613-521-3340 x3233
[email protected]

See Also...

Cannabis Considerations for Student Athletes

Student athletes in U SPORTS and the CCAA have new protocols for cannabis. Take the Cannabis Considerations for Student-Athletes e-learning module to learn more.