Recreational drug use and sport: Time for a WADA rethink?

Recreational drug use and sport : Time for a WADA rethink? / Ivan Waddington, Ask Vest Christiansen, John Gleaves, John Hoberman, Verner Møller. - (Performance Enhancement & Health 2 (2013) 2 (June); p. 41-47)

  • DOI: 10.1016/j.peh.2013.04.003

Part of special issue:

Anti-Doping and Non-Performance Enhancing Drugs: The Debate


This paper examines current policies towards drug use in sport to evaluate their appropriateness. The focus is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA's) attitudes and policies towards athletes’ use of recreational drugs. Since recreational drugs such as marijuana are not performance-enhancing, one of the most frequently used arguments to justify doping controls – that those involved in drug use derive an unfair advantage over other competitors – cannot be used to justify controls on the use of such drugs. Given this, it is suggested that the attempt to control the use of marijuana within a sporting context is best understood in terms of the growing concern about drug ‘abuse’ within the wider society. The paper further suggests that the WADA has used the ‘spirit of sport’ argument to reach beyond traditionally accepted sporting concerns. In this regard, WADA is using anti-doping regulations to police personal lifestyle and social activities that are unrelated to sporting performance. On this basis, it is concluded that WADA's focus and resources should return to enforcing sporting values related to doping rather than policing athletes’ lifestyles, and it is therefore suggested that the ban on marijuana and similar recreational drugs should be lifted.

Original document


9 May 2013
Christiansen, Ask Vest
Gleaves, John
Hoberman, John
Møller, Venner
Waddington, Ivan
United Kingdom
United States of America
Legal Terms
Anti-Doping policy
WADA Prohibited List International Standard
Other organisations
Aarhus Universitet (AU) - Aarhus University
California State University (CSU)
Norges idrettshøgskole (NIH) - Norwegian School of Sport Sciences
University of Chester
University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin)
Doping classes
S8. Cannabinoids
Cannabis (THC)
Out-of-competition use / Substances of Abuse
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Scientific article
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Date generated
28 September 2021
Date of last modification
29 November 2021
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