Over the Past couple of years there has been much talk going on regarding whether CBD supplements are or should be allowed in professional sports. Athletes are always on the lookout for a product that can reduce recovery time, reduce performance anxieties and promote wellbeing.


Many globally known athletes have openly spoken about their use of CBD and how it has helped in many aspects of their sports, such as Nate Diaz (MMA), Travis Rice (Snowboarder) and Mickey Gall (MMA), with many more professional athletes that endorse Cannabis based products.  But there is still a little grey area around this on whether CBD is actually allowed in all sports. 


CBD & The World Anti-Doping Agency


In 2018 - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) took Cannabidiol off its prohibited substances list, which in essence means that for most professional athletes CBD supplements are allowed. Though this does not guarantee that CBD supplements are actually allowed in your sport. WADA has a list of various sports governing bodies who have vowed to abide by the standards and rules set by WADA. Amongst these are FIFA, World Rugby, PTA and World Athletics – meaning that Professional football, rugby, tennis and Olympic athletes are in fact allowed to use CBD supplements. There are hundreds more sporting bodies that are signatories of WADA and its code of conduct.


Is CBD allowed in the NBA, NFL & the likes?


Where we notice the biggest difference is in the US, where the governing body for each sport such as the NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB and NCAA all have different approaches towards CBD oil and are not a signatory of WADA. For example, where the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) abides by WADAs policies, the NBA does not. Their rules are significantly different across the board from CBD oil, the length of the game, all the way to the number of referees. So if you are a pro player in the NBA and you transfer to a team under FIBA, there are numerous rule changes including what supplements you are prohibited from taking. 


While the NFL has a complete ban on CBD in football (despite its many players advocating for it), the NHL is tolerant of cannabis products and Major League Baseball has lifted a ban on Marijuana in its entirety and will treat it “like alcohol”. The NCAA, the official governing body of all college sports (in the USA) who are notoriously strict on supplements, are rather vague on the subject matter by saying “THC and marijuana are illicit substances and any chemically related substances to the ones on the list are also banned. Although this doesn’t specifically state CBD supplements are associated one can assume that it would come under this category.


Should there not be one universal standard?


Wouldn’t it make it easier for there to be one universal standard for CBD in Sports, or even all substances for that matter? Given how sport has this powerful tendency to transcend international barriers and bring people together with world cups, European championships, Olympics and even a combined North-South Korean Winter Olympics team most recently. Given we all compete in the same sports domestically and at international events, it would only make sense to have this.


What are the Alternatives?


One of the biggest factors that people are citing for the greater use and allowance of CBD in sports is that the current options for pain management are somewhat controversial. Reliance on unnatural pharmaceuticals like ibuprofen are showing increasing evidence of longer-term side effects and are not good for anyone to taking consistently on a regular basis.


In the US, where Cannabis in sports is the most restrictive, for decades has been an ongoing Opioid crisis in the US that has been costing people their lives and causing addiction and heartbreak for families. There are many notorious stories that talk about the physical duress that NFL players have gone through and the physical pain that their playing careers have caused in the aftermath – like many regular Americans, athletes frequently turn to drugs like Oxycontin to manage their ongoing physical pain, which is known for being superbly addictive and causes thousands of overdoses every year.


So, would perhaps a better answer be to allow the use of more natural alternatives especially ones that have no psychoactive effects?


To answer the original question


Can you use CBD in sports? Really, it just depends. If you are ever unsure we strongly suggest seeking guidance from your sport’s governing body. Slowly but surely we are seeing shifting attitudes for cannabis oil in sports, as more scientific studies into cannabis take place, the better we are able to understand how it may be harnessed for the bodies benefit, and how CBD might play a better role in sports in the future.