By Michael Lindberg, Head of IRF’s Anti-Doping Committee
The result of a doping sample carried out on the 17th of May 2015 during the National Rafting Championships in Serbia was an adverse analytical finding showing the presence of a prohibited substance.
The doping sample belonged to the 19-year old Serbian athlete, Bogdan Ribaric, who was tested positive for a high level of Carboxy THC indicating the use of cannabis referring to group S.08 Cannabinoids of the Prohibited List.
Since the test was carried out during the National Rafting Championships in Serbia, Bogdan was subject to the rules of in-competition testing.
The Rafting Federation of Serbia was informed about the positive sample on the 10th of June 2015 and Bogdan was provisionally suspended on the 11th of June 2015. During a hearing on the 3rd of July 2015 Bogdan regret the whole situation and demonstrated that the use of cannabis was unrelated to the enhancement of sports performance.
The Disciplinary Body decided to punish Bogdan Ribaric with an 8 months period of Ineligibility starting from the 11th of June 2015. Bogdan will not be able to compete at any IRF events until he has served his suspension.
The International Rafting Federation condemns any use of doping in association to the rafting sport.
The use of cannabis in sports
Cannabinoids have been prohibited in all sports during competition since 2004 when WADA assumed the responsibility for establishing and maintaining the Prohibited List. Prior to 2004 cannabinoids were only prohibited in certain sports and the substance itself has been frequently debated in the last 15 years among international sports organisations.
Some have strongly argued that cannabinoids should not be included in sport regulations because consumption of cannabis is not performance enhancing in sports and therefore it should remain a social issue. On the other hand others have claimed that cannabis is performance enhancing and, because it is an illegal substance in most countries and because athletes are role models in modern society, cannabinoids should be prohibited at all times, in- and out-of-competition. The result for now is that cannabis is illegal in-competition.
The reason to keep cannabis on the Prohibited List should probably be found in regards to the criteria of inclusion of a substance or method on the Prohibited List. In section 4 of the WADA code these criteria’s are described as 1) Potential to enhance performance, 2) Risk of the athletes’ health and 3) Violation of the spirit of sport.
Huestis and colleagues discussed this in a scientific paper that was published in Sports Medicine in 2011. You can find the article here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3717337/.