Pro skateboarder Cory Juneau, ranked one of the best in the world, accepted a six month suspension from the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after testing positive for THC.
While the consequences seem to be virtually meaningless for Juneau, they demonstrate a potentially big problem for professional athletes everywhere moving forward.
Though Juneau’s suspension was only just announced in a press release from USADA earlier this week, it was actually a result of a drug test administered to him almost a year ago at a competition in Brazil. Now, maybe Juneau was smoking weed, but these USADA people must have been smoking crack, because his punishment doesn’t make much sense.
On January 28, 2018, Juneau peed in a cup in Brazil. Sometime late, people from the Brazilian Anti-Doping Authority found THC in his pee. In October of 2018, USADA received the results from Brazil, and then on Tuesday they released their verdict on Juneau to the public.
But here is the weird part: Juneau’s six-month suspension begins retroactively, on January 28, 2018. Also, because of “successful completion of a USADA anti-doping educational tutorial,” the athlete got three months taken off his suspension. So, that means his suspension ended in April of last year, about nine months ago.
The only real consequence for Junea is that any competing he did during that three months or so is now considered void, “including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.”
But while the consequences might be somewhat abstract for a 19 year old stoner prodigy athlete, they represent some real problems for other athletes. According to Sports Illustrated, Juneau was under the authority of USADA because skateboarding is going to become an Olympic sport at the 2020 games in Tokyo.
According to USADA, “Marijuana and hashish are Specified Substances in the class of Cannabinoids and prohibited in-competition under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.”
So, even though weed legality in the U.S. has changed pretty drastically in the last few years, and even though cannabis is not much of a performance enhancing drug, USADA prohibits it because the mothership global anti-doping authority says so.
USADA does, however, provide for the possibility of a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for athletes who use controlled substances for medicinal reasons, but it is unclear how easy it is to get one of those.
Photo via Flickr user FunGi _ (Trading)