The adoption of cannabis products by the sports industry continues to evolve as the US Triathlon became the first national body of an American sport to make a sponsorship deal with a company that sells products containing cannabidiol or CBD.
CBD is a non-intoxicating compound that, like the intoxicating compound THC, is found in varying amounts in hemp, a legal cannabis plant. In 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its banned list. THC and dozens of other cannabinoids remain on the prohibited list, but for removing the CBD, WADA has opened the door for elite athletes to use and endorse CBD products.
CBD's benefits are said to include preventing pain and inflammation, relieving stress and anxiety, and even aiding digestion. CBD products are available in many forms, including oils and lotions.
Financial terms of the four-year contract between US Triathlon and Pure Spectrum, based in Colorado, were not disclosed. It came less than a year after Congress passed the Finance Act, which legalized hemp. Plant cultivation was illegal for many years. Since then, sports organizations have tiptoed toward CBD and its growing business. Much of the population knows little about CBD. Some still associate it with the most illicit uses of marijuana, which remains illegal at the federal level and in many states, even though it has been decriminalized in some.
The US exclusive deal with the US Triathlon Pure Spectrum will help the relatively small national body to support the sport's growth while trying to keep racing rates and other triathlon-related costs at a reasonable level.
Triathlon participation in the US fell by about 25% between 2013 and 2018. Interest in the sport has increased significantly after it became part of the 2000 Olympics, but has declined in recent years for a number of reasons, although triathlon drivers say they have reversed some. of these trends.
The US triathlon has annual revenues of about $ 16 million. About $ 2 million, or about 12 to 15 percent, comes from sponsorship.
Athletes of all levels – who are often the first to adopt anything that can help people feel better, recover from training or improve performance – have adopted CBD. Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon chief executive, said the move to embrace CBD among sport participants led his organization in a six-month effort to determine CBD's real risks and benefits and whether the USA Triathlon could seek to make money. responsibly through sponsorship. deal with a CBD company.
"We needed to be able to say that if you use this product you will not pass the drug test," said Harris.
The US triathlon is not the only sports organization that has a relationship with a CBD company. The Ultimate Fighting Championship and CrossFit also do. However, the risk of a national governing body of an Olympic sport is greater because these organizations must comply with all WADA regulations and comply with the most intense drug testing protocols. Privately owned athletic organizations, such as major American sports leagues, may choose to create their own drug rules and policies.
Harris said the US Triathlon has finally gotten used to Pure Spectrum because the company controls the manufacturing process from the outset and tests products five times during production to ensure they don't have THC. Pure Spectrum offers CBD as lotions, oils and tinctures. He stopped selling vape products last week because of growing health concerns.
Brady Bell, the company's chief executive, said Pure Spectrum has been targeting elite athletes and consumers with active lifestyles since its founding in 2015.
"I understand what these athletes go through daily, from the stress that precedes a competition or training, to the breaking of their bodies," he said. "What better market to prove it than healthier, more educated athletes?"
Over the past year, several notable sports personalities have established relationships with CBD companies or have acknowledged trying out the products. They include Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors trainer; John Isner, the tennis player; Goat Miller the skier; and Bubba Watson, the golfer.
THC remains on the ban list because it meets at least two of the three ban criteria – offering the potential to over-improve performance, pose a health risk and violate the spirit of the sport.
THC, like other cannabis compounds, can reduce stress and anxiety, potentially improving performance. They can also be detrimental to a person's health and can be considered a violation of the so-called sports spirit because marijuana is illegal in many places.
However, anti-doping authorities no longer test out-of-competition cannabis and have raised the threshold for cannabis compounds that result in a violation. In addition, it is listed among the least worthwhile recreational drugs.
Harris and Bell said they are confident that anyone using Pure Spectrum products will not be positive for THC.
"We have hundreds of athletes using our product and more than 1,000 members of the military," said Bell. "We understand that we are dealing with their livelihoods."
Harris said pre-settlement research enabled the federation to answer questions received from triathletes at all levels about the benefits and risks of CBD compared to other forms of medicine.
"Athletes prefer not to take prescription drugs," said Harris. “They want organic and healthy. They want to find something more natural. "