Virtually all sports organizations still ban marijuana because of its THC content. Any athlete who tests positive for this substance risks being stripped of their titles and banned from participating in current and future events. Testing positive for THC could signal the end an athlete's careers.
Even though THC is extracted from the same plant family as CBD, athletes taking CBD do not have the same risk of punishment. Recently, various governing bodies within the sports industry changed their policies regarding the legality of the use of CBD products.
What changed? Why is CBD now being used in soccer, and what is the effect of CBD in soccer? Continue reading to find out.
The WADA Rules That Changed It All
The new World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) policy permits FIFA players to use CBD products. This change made headlines before the 2018 World Cup started, and many professional and amateur soccer players were delighted with the change.
In October 2017, the agency finally announced that they were removing CBD, or cannabidiol, from their list of banned substances. This means that CBD in soccer is now permitted. Athletes, including soccer players, can now incorporate this product into their regimen.
However, the authority of WADA does not override the jurisdiction of governments. As such, athletes must first double-check the legality of CBD in the country they are living and playing in before trying out any CBD product.
Moreover, athletes should be aware of the various exclusions to the new amendment to WADA's policy. As per the statement of WADA, only cannabidiol is removed from the ban list. The ban on CBD-related substances, such as cannabis products, synthetic cannabinoids, and THCs, is still fully implemented.
Since it is difficult to extract only CBD from the cannabis plant, athletes need to be extra cautious when it comes to choosing the CBD products that they will use. It would be best that athletes use only CBD isolate that has been extracted from the hemp plant (the type of cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% of THC).
Before using CBD in soccer, athletes should take the time to cross-reference the information indicated in the product's packaging with the company's Certificate of Analysis (COA) to ensure that the former reflects accurate information.
Finally, soccer players must seek approval from a medical professional before starting a CBD regimen.
CBD Vs. THC: What You Need to Know
What's the difference between CBD and THC? Why is one substance still banned and the other slowly being accepted in various industries? Why did WADA decide to remove CBD from its ban list?
As mentioned, CBD and THC are both substances found in plants belonging to the Cannabis family. Both substances have the same molecular component—30 atoms of hydrogen, 2 atoms of oxygen, and 21 atoms of carbon. The difference between these two substances lies in the arrangement of their atoms.
This seemingly small adjustment can make all the difference. THC's molecular structure allows it to bind to CB1 receptors in the brain, altering it and producing a sense of euphoria (commonly referred to as a “high”). On the other hand, the molecular structure of CBD is not able to bind to CB1 receptors, so it cannot create the euphoric feelings associated with marijuana use. In short, CBD is not a psychoactive agent.
Although marijuana does contain CBD, the CBD found in the majority of the CBD products in the market were extracted from the hemp plant, not marijuana.
Soccer Players Using CBD
The most celebrated soccer player that is also an avid supporter and endorser of CBD products is Megan Rapinoe. The Olympic gold medalist, 2019 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year, and two-time Women's World Cup Champion claims that CBD products are a significant part of her recovery regimen. According to Megan, she decided to try out CBD products because she was looking for a more natural option to manage pain, regulate sleep, and boost recovery.
Aside from Rapinoe, other professional athletes from many different sports are vocal when it comes to their support for CBD products. These include Mike Tyson (former boxing champion), KC Deane (dual-sport athlete), Jay Williams (former NBA star), Jake Plummer (former NFL quarterback), and Derrick Morgan (top football player).
Why is the Soccer Industry Embracing CBD?
Why has CBD in soccer become popular? Aside from the fact that CBD is not a psychoactive agent, many people believe that CBD may provide a wide array of benefits to professional soccer players.
Whether you are an amateur or professional soccer player, soccer can be a physically demanding and dangerous sport. Some players play over 50 games per season, and that count does not include other tournaments and training that they may partake in. Their bodies often only have a few days to recover before they are subjected to another rigorous training session or competition.
All of this stress and pressure is bound to take a toll on their bodies. Instead of relying on synthetic painkillers and other unwanted substances, more and more soccer players are choosing CBD because they believe it may be a natural, non-psychoactive, and non-addicting way to manage some of the physical and mental problems that they encounter along the way.
While these claims have not yet been approved by the FDA, here are some of the potential benefits of CBD that are being explored by medical researchers:
CBD may protect the muscles.
The long hours of running involved in soccer training can leave muscles susceptible to tearing and pulling. Injuries may be part of the game and training, but soccer players try to lower the risk as much as possible.
Studies have been conducted to explore the potential effects of oral CBD products on muscles. One hypothesis is that this substance may inhibit the production of cortisol. High levels of this hormone in the body can suppress muscle growth and recovery.
CBD may promote proper rest.
The only way that soccer players can survive their rigorous training and intense exercises is by taking the time to recover. Recovery takes place when our body is at rest.
When we are sleeping, our brain activity is reduced to a minimum. As a result, the blood supply to the muscles is increased. The high levels of minerals and oxygen that the muscles receive pave the way for their growth and recovery.
CBD is thought to stimulate our endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is believed to regulate various bodily functions, including sleep.
CBD may help with pain.
Aside from fatigue, soccer players continuously face pain. With the high physical demands of soccer, athletes are subjected to chronic pain, which is often coupled with inflammation.
As mentioned, CBD is believed to have a significant impact on our body’s endocannabinoid system, which is also associated with the regulation of inflammation and pain in the body. This is why further studies are being conducted to determine the effects of both oral and topical CBD products in the management of pain and inflammation.
CBD may ease performance anxiety.
Believe it or not, even professional athletes still suffer from performance anxiety. Though they have spent long months training and working out, there can still be a fear of failure. The more the athlete experiences performance anxiety, the more likely it is that what they fear will come true.
The best way to keep this from happening is to calm the mind and clear these unwanted thoughts. One theory being investigated is that CBD acts on the body's endocannabinoid system, which is also a key player in managing fear, stress, and anxiety.
The research about CBD's possible benefits continues. Experts in the medical field are conducting studies and experiments that aim to further explore the effects of CBD in our body—both the good and the bad. Establishing the right dosing regimen for everyone and determining its side effects and benefits will take years.
CBD in soccer has created a lot of buzz, but one should not forget to seek the guidance of healthcare professionals concerning its use. Soccer players should also keep in mind the limitations to the WADA policy amendment that we have highlighted in the previous sections.
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