Nutrition firm calls on UK Sport to investigate CBD role in sports

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The UK-based firm cites recent events in the US, where the NFL and its Players Association (NFLPA) committed €846k ($1m) supporting research into the plant’s effects on pain and athletic performance in American football.

“We are hearing from countless customers about the benefits of CBD, not just from athletes but from anyone who leads an active lifestyle, they are telling us that CBD helps with pain management, sleep disorders and anxiety,”​ says Dom Day, co-founder, Fourfive.

“We want the UK’s sport bodies including the RFU, the FA and even Sport England to step up and commit to research which looks at the benefits of CBD and medicinal cannabis so the industry can fulfil its potential.”

UK regulatory position

Current regulatory positions within UK sport remains unclear as authorities tackle the legal ramifications of taking cannabis, cannabinoids and non-pharmacologic treatments to support or enhance sporting performance.

The UK Anti-Doping’s position regarding the use of CBD products in sport permits its use but it is at the athlete’s own risk. As a result, CBD products should be considered in the same way as all other dietary supplements.

The authority warned though that, if an athlete did use a CBD Product that led to an Adverse Analytical Finding for THC (or any other prohibited substance), their use of this product would not mitigate their fault.

Individual sports governing bodies that include Sport England have so far been reluctant to show any leadership or foresight on the topic, adding to the confusion and inconsistent guidelines.

WADA stance

Globally, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), has prohibited all natural and synthetic cannabinoids except for CBD.

This includes cannabis, hashish and marijuana as well as products including foods and drinks containing cannabinoids. All synthetic cannabinoids that mimic the effects of THC are prohibited.

WADA adds that athletes are permitted some CBD oils and tinctures extracted from cannabis plants. However, this may also contain THC and other cannabinoids that could result in a positive test for a prohibited cannabinoid.

“The overall market for CBD in the UK was expected to be worth €802m (£690m) by the end of 2021,”​ highlights Fourfive.

“While the Food Standards Authority (FSA) has moved to provide regulation around the supply of CBD through its Novel food directive, sports authorities have been reluctant and slow to provide guidance and evidence to the athletes they represent.”

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