Marijuana still banned
LONDON (AP) - Romanian gymnast Andreea Raducan paid a heavy
price for listening to her doctor and taking a common cold tablet
during the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She was stripped of a gold
Athletes who did little more than drink too much coffee or
cola often ended up similarly disgraced - or suspended. Such
disqualifications would end under a proposed new list of banned
substances drawn up by the World Anti-Doping Agency, The Associated
Press learned Wednesday.
One key recommendation calls for caffeine and pseudoephedrine,
an ingredient in Sudafed and other over-the-counter cold remedies,
to be removed from the banned category, along with phenylpropanolamine,
another minor stimulant found in cold medicines.
Cannabis or marijuana would remain on the banned list. Modafinil,
the medication that could cost American sprinter Kelli White
two world championship gold medals, would be listed by name
for the first time among banned stimulants.
Details of the proposed list were disclosed to the AP by Arne
Ljungqvist, the Swedish anti-doping official who heads WADA's
medical research committee.
"We must adjust our list to modern thinking and to changes
of attitude and changes of knowledge," Ljungqvist said.
The list must still be approved by the doping agency's executive
committee, which meets in Montreal next Monday and Tuesday.
WADA chief Dick Pound said he would support a continued ban
on marijuana, but declined to comment on the proposed changes
for caffeine and pseudoephedrine.
"It's not right for me as chairman to anticipate what the executive
committee may decide," Pound said. "The list is proposed for
discussion and we haven't discussed it yet. I don't know enough
WADA has set a deadline of Oct. 1 for final ratification of
the list, which would go into effect globally on Jan. 1. The
list applies to all sports and all countries covered by WADA's
global anti-doping code; it would be in force for next year's
Summer Olympics in Athens.
"Hundreds and hundreds of man hours have been devoted to this,"
Ljungqvist said. "The result is not revolutionary. You end up
Raducan was 17 when she was told to turn in her all-around
gymnastics gold medal in Sydney after testing positive for pseudoephedrine.
She took it because her doctor told her to. Olympic officials
acknowledged the penalty was harsh, but said they had no choice
but to follow their own rules.
"We cannot look retroactively at what has happened in the past,"
Ljungqvist said. "The list in existence is the one you have
to observe. In 2000, pseudoephedrine was on the list."
Ljungqvist stressed that among the substances that would remain
banned was ephedrine, considered a stronger stimulant than pseudoephedrine.
Caffeine has also produced its share of positive findings.
A urine sample showing a concentration of caffeine greater than
12 micrograms per millilitre has been considered a positive
Among the higher profile cases, U.S. sprinter Inger Miller
was stripped of a bronze medal in the 60 metres at the 1999
world indoor championships after a positive caffeine test. At
last month's Pan American Games, Letitia Vriesde of Surinam
lost her gold in the 800 metres for the same thing.
Modafinil, which figured in White's case, is on the proposed
The status of cannabis, which covers marijuana and hashish,
was the subject of particularly intense debate.
Some have argued that cannabis should be left off the list
because it's not performance-enhancing. But Ljungqvist noted
the new definition of doping also covers substances that violate
the "spirit of sport."
Ross Rebagliati, a Canadian snowboarder, was initially stripped
of a gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics after a positive
marijuana test. He was reinstated because cannabis wasn't officially
on the banned list. It has been specifically prohibited since