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Women in Sport

24th Jul 2021

So Sha’Carri Richardson gets banned for smoking cannabis yet Megan Rapinoe is advertising a form of it…

Danny Jones

It’s not a good look for the Olympic committee.

US footballer Megan Rapinoe and the Olympic committee are being heavily criticised for mixed and contradictory messages regarding the use of cannabis.

Rapinoe, 36, featured in a recent Forbes article which saw her promoting a CBD (Cannabidiol) or cannabis product called Mendi, as well as highlighting how elite athletes use weed-based products to prepare for competitions.

The company itself was founded by Rapinoe’s sister Rachael and Brett Schwager, who said: “We really believe there is a movement and a flood of people wanting healthier alternative medications […] So, we want to give people the healthiest option to stay on top of their game longer, specifically positioned with athletes.”

This, unsurprisingly, hasn’t sat well with a lot of people.

Although marijuana is legal either recreationally or medicinally in several states across America, the Olympic organisers and United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) banned US sprinter, Sha’Carri Richardson, from the Games after she tested positive for having cannabis in her system.

Many have quickly pointed towards institutional racism as an underlying factor in the difference between the decision made for each athlete, respectively.

When weed was legalised in New York earlier this year, an NYPD stat showed that Black and Latino people made up 94% of all marijuana-related arrests in 2020, despite there being more white weed smokers in the state.

Although Rapinoe did not test positive for any traces of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive agent in weed – or any potential doping/performance-enhancing substances, for that matter – this, for many, come across as somewhat hypocritical, not to mention poorly timed and pretty tactless.

While Richardson admitted to using cannabis after the death of her mother and a period of counselling, Rapinoe is essentially promoting it as a lifestyle choice and healthy alternative to other medications for professional athletes and people alike.

Many will be happy to see the further promotion of cannabis, as the stigma around smoking the plant continues to dwindle, but to see the Olympic authorities essentially turning a blind eye and going against their own logic will no doubt continue to be a source of frustration.