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CBD guides: Five things every athlete should know about CBD

Athletes may be curious about starting CBD but unsure if it will interfere with their sport or cause them to fail a drugs test



Athletes put a lot of stress and strain on their body while training. If you are curious about trying CBD, here are five answers to some of the most common questions.

What is CBD

CBD is just one of many cannabinoids that exist naturally in the cannabis plant. It is non-psycoactive which means it won’t get you high but it is thought to have many benefits for athletes especially when it comes to post-training pain.

Its available in many different forms from oils and vapes to creams or edibles. Choosing the right CBD for you depends on personal preference, lifestyle and what you are trying to treat.

Athlete: A banner advert for IMPACT CBD showing a bottle of CBD oil and a torso of a woman

Is CBD a banned substance in sport?

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from their list of prohibited substances. The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) also removed CBD.

It is worth noting that THC is still a banned substance as well as synthetic cannabinoids that have simular effects. The ban on THC is what led to Sha’ Carri Richardson being forced to miss the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive. WADA is set to review the ban this year although it will remain in place for at least 2022.

There should be very low quantities of THC in legal CBD products. If in doubt, athletes should check the professional body for the sport that they take part in.

What benefits does CBD have for athletes?

Athletes put a lot of stress and strain on the body during training and competitions. CBD may help with inflammation, pain and relaxation.

Sore muscles are also referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The soreness can happen if you change your routine or start a new exercise programme.

This causes microscopic damage to muscle fibres. It can last up to three to five days after your workout which can be alarming for beginners or some athletes. CBD may help by soothing muscle pain and reducing the inflammation around the damage.

A study on CBD and joint pain found that daily doses may help to reduce the pain. The study focused on rats with arthritis and the CBD treatment was applied as a gel.

Athletes: A row of test tubes containing CBGA oil with a doctors white gloved hand holding one up to the light

What’s the best way for athletes to take CBD?

Topicals such as creams, lotions or gels are a great way to target the exact area of pain. The CBD is absorbed through the skin so it can be faster acting than edibles such as protein bars or drinks.

There are also massage oils that can be incorporated into sports massages that contain high levels of CBD. If lotions or potions aren’t your thing, then patches can be another way to get a dose of CBD. They can be applied directly to the painful area and it is absorbed the same way. However, patches do not leave an oily residue which some creams, lotions or gels may which makes it a better way for athletes to use CBD during training.

Will I fail a drugs test?


When an athlete is testing for drugs, they are not looking for CBD. They are testing for the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the blood. This is another cannabinoid and it’s responsible for the high feeling people associate with cannabis.

If CBD is purchased legally and has lab tests to prove its contents then you should be fine. CBD by law must have below 0.02 per cent THC in order to be sold in the UK. This is an extremely low level of THC which should not be responsible for failing a drugs test.

Some states in the US have legalised THC so it is possible to buy products with THC in them. Some professional sports organisations have announced they are no longer drug testing athletes such as the NBA.

It’s worth knowing the law in your country, and in your state, regarding THC and CBD as well as researching what your sporting organisation allows.


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