U.S. long jumper Tara Davis-Woodhall has been suspended for one month and had her indoor national title stripped after testing positive for THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) imposed the ban retroactively to the date of the positive test, which was confirmed on Feb. 17th.
The sample was collected after Davis-Woodhall won the long jump title at the indoor national championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with a jump of 6.99 meters. In a statement, the USADA essentially said its following the protocol adopted by the global anti-doping agency.
“Cannabis, marijuana, and hashish are specified substances in the class of cannabinoids and are prohibited in-competition under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic Committee National Anti-Doping Policies, and the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules, all of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list,” the USADA said in the statement.
A Reduced Sentence Does Not Save Title
The USADA noted that Davis-Woodhall received a reduced suspension – the minimum allowed by the rules – because cannabis use was not competition-related. She also completed a substance abuse program. Under the current rules, she could have faced as much as a three-month suspension.
However, Davis-Woodhall did lose her national indoor jumping title. The USADA wrote that Davis-Woodhall was “disqualified from all competitive results obtained on and subsequent to February 17, 2023… including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.”
While adhering to the rules created by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the USADA statement also said, “USADA has advocated and will continue to advocate to WADA, the rule maker, to treat marijuana in a fairer and more effective way to identify true in-competition use.”
Current Case Echoes What Happened to Sha’Carri Richardson
What happened to Davis-Woodhall mirrors the high-profile case in 2021 involving Sha’Carri Richardson, who the USADA banned from participating in the Olympics in Tokyo after she tested positive for cannabis use.
Her cases ignited a debate about whether sports should treat cannabis as it does other substances. The NBA already has removed cannabis from the list of drugs it tests for, something it continued this year. Individual athletes – including Pat Mahomes – questioned the fairness of what happened to Richardson.
The argument is that athletes shouldn’t pay a price for using a substance that is now legal for more than 155 million Americans and decriminalized in almost every state.
However, as things stand, Davis-Woodhall lost the record she achieved with a long jump of 6.99 meters (22 feet 11 ¼”) at the 2023 USATF Indoor Championships held in New Mexico.
Previously, Davis-Woodhall finished sixth in the women’s long-jump final at the Tokyo Summer Olympics. She also is the American junior (less than 20 years old) record holder for the indoor long jump, set in 2017 at the Dunamis Sports Group Prep Classic in Frisco, Texas, part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.