Preliminary data on the potential for unintentional antidoping rule violations by permitted cannabidiol (CBD) use

Preliminary data on the potential for unintentional antidoping rule violations by permitted cannabidiol (CBD) use / Ute Mareck, Gregor Fusshöller, Hans Geyer, Marilyn A. Huestis, Anja B. Scheiff, Mario Thevis. - (Drug Testing and Analysis 13 (2021) 3 (March); p. 539-549)

  • PMID: 33125823
  • DOI: 10.1002/dta.2959


According to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) regulations, cannabinoids use is prohibited in competition except for cannabidiol (CBD) use. For an adverse analytical finding (AAF) in doping control, cannabinoid misuse is based on identification of the pharmacologically inactive metabolite 11-nor-delta-9-carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid (carboxy-THC) in urine at a concentration greater than 180 ng/ml. All other (minor) cannabinoids are reported as AAF when identified, except for CBD that has been explicitly excluded from the class of cannabinoids on WADA's Prohibited List since 2018. However, due to the fact that CBD isolated from cannabis plants may contain additional minor cannabinoids, the permissible use of CBD can lead to unintentional violations of antidoping regulations. An assay for the detection of 16 cannabinoids in human urine was established. The sample preparation consisted of enzymatic hydrolysis of glucuronide conjugates, liquid-liquid extraction, trimethylsilylation, and analysis by gas chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS). Spot urine samples from CBD users, as well as specimens obtained from CBD administration studies conducted with 15 commercially available CBD products, were analyzed, and assay characteristics such as selectivity, reproducibility of detection at the minimum required performance level, limit of detection, and limit of identification were determined. An ethical committee approved controlled single dose commercially available CBD products administration study was conducted to identify 16 cannabinoids in urine samples collected after ingestion or application of the CBD products as well as their presence in spot urine samples of habitual CBD users. Variable patterns of cannabinoids or their metabolites were observed in the urine samples, especially when full spectrum CBD products were consumed. The presence of minor cannabinoids or their metabolites in an athlete's in-competition urine sample represents a substantial risk of an antidoping rule violation.

Original document


Research / Study
30 October 2020
Fußhöller, Gregor
Geyer, Hans
Huestis, Marilyn A.
Mareck, Ute
Scheiff, Anja B.
Thevis, Mario
United States of America
Adverse Analytical Finding / presence
Other organisations
Deutsche Sporthochschule Köln (DSHS) - German Sport University Cologne
Nationale Anti Doping Agentur (NADA) - National Anti Doping Agency of Germany
Thomas Jefferson University
Analytical aspects
Mass spectrometry analysis
Testing method development
Doping classes
S8. Cannabinoids
Cannabis (THC)
Out-of-competition use / Substances of Abuse
Document category
Scientific article
Document type
Pdf file
Date generated
21 September 2021
Date of last modification
23 September 2021
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