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Cannabis and sport
  1. M Saugy1,
  2. L Avois1,
  3. C Saudan1,
  4. N Robinson1,
  5. C Giroud2,
  6. P Mangin2,
  7. J Dvorak3
  1. 1Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses, Institute of Legal Medicine, Lausanne, Switzerland
  2. 2Institute of Legal Medicine, Lausanne, Switzerland
  3. 3Chairman, FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre, Department of Neurology, Schulthess Clinic, Zurich, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to:
 M Saugy
 Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses, Institute of Legal Medicine, Lausanne, Switzerland; martial.saugy{at}


Background and objectives: Cannabis is on the list of prohibited substances in the practice of sport, although its performance enhancing effect has not yet been proved. Its popularity among the younger generations as a social drug puts cannabis at the top of the list of compounds detected by the anti-doping laboratories accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency worldwide. The management of the results of urine analysis is quite difficult for the medical and disciplinary committees not only because of the social use of the substance, but also because of the interpretation of the analytical data from urine samples. This paper gives an overview of what is presently known about cannabis in relation with the practice of sport.

Methods: Review of literature on the cannabis and exercise, its effect in the body, and the problems with interpretation of results when it is detected in urine.

Results: The paper outlines the major effects of cannabis in the context of its social use and its use for sport activities. The difficulties in the interpretation of urine sample analysis results because of the protracted excretion time of the main metabolite, long after the intake, are described.

Conclusions: There is an urgent need for sport authorities to take measures necessary to avoid players misusing cannabis.

  • THC, tetrahydrocannabinol
  • WADA, World Anti-Doping Agency
  • cannabis
  • doping
  • sport
  • athlete
  • misuse

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  • Competing interests: none declared