Awareness around cannabidiol (or CBD, as it’s more commonly known) is growing every day. However, many people are still confused about the substance, and specifically whether it is allowed – both by law, and within sports. Luckily, one thing that has helped to clear up this confusion in recent years is the number of professional athletes who have publicly come out in support of CBD.
A number of known sportsmen and women, from backgrounds as varied as MMA to golf, have spoken out about using cannabidiol. In fact, many of them are now actively working with CBD companies to endorse the products that they’ve been benefitting from for years.
But firstly, is CBD allowed in sports?
Considering its association with the cannabis plant, it’s understandable that many sporting bodies initially had bans on CBD. However, thanks to an increase in research studies, evidence began to show that cannabidiol did not possess the same negative side-effects of THC (one of the other compounds found in cannabis, which is psycho-active and responsible for the ‘high’ feeling associated with the drug).
This research was teamed with a lot of anecdotal evidence from people who were increasingly reporting on the positive side effects they were experiencing with CBD oil. These included:
- Pain relief
- Stress and anxiety management
- Improved sleep
- Weight management
As it is a naturally occuring substance, and one that works by mimicking our bodies’ own molecules, the decision was eventually made in 2017 by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to lift any restrictions around CBD within sports and competitions. These days, athletes in any sport are allowed to make use of CBD as long as it is a legal form of the compound. This means that Tokyo 2020 will be the first Olympic Games where athletes will be allowed to use cannabidiol!
Why do athletes take CBD in the first place?
Simply from the benefits listed above, it’s easy to see why athletes – just like non-athletes – would be interested in trying CBD-infused products. Specifically though, many sportspeople find that cannabidiol helps them with:
- Pre-match nerves – the calming effects of CBD can help relieve any anxiety that athletes have in the run-up to a game, fight or performance. It also helps them to get a good night’s sleep, which is key for helping them to feel prepared and rested
- Weight management – CBD products are thought to act as an appetite suppressant in some people, making it easier for athletes to stick to their diets and maintain their physiques
- Pain relief – sore muscles can hold athletes back from their training regimes, and so the anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties of cannabidiol can help them to get back to the gym sooner
Since the WADA lifted the ban, many athletes have joined the conversation in support of CBD. Here are some of the most notable names that have been leading the way:
Perhaps unsurprisingly considering the amount of physical strain they put on their bodies, Mixed Martial Arts athletes have been some of the most vocal supporters of CBD.
Nate Diaz, a UFC fighter with 19 wins under his belt, was one of the first to publicly speak about his cannabidiol use – and even famously vaped CBD at a press conference. Along with his brother Nick, Diaz regularly praises cannabidiol for its pain-relieving properties, advocating it over prescription medication due to its natural origin.
And it’s not just the men of the sport who are public in their support of CBD. Gina Mazany is another UFC athlete who is happy to discuss how she uses it to help her body recover after training or a gruelling fight.
In the UK, one of the sports most associated with CBD is rugby. This is in large thanks to the public support of Saracens teammates Dominic Day and George Kruis. Like MMA, rugby is an incredibly physical, combative sport, and the pair have praised the way that cannabidiol helps to “put [their] bodies back together” (source: BBC).
For Dominic Day, the discovery came as he attempted to recover from a knee injury and operation. Now the duo openly use cannabis oil products as part of their regular training and recovery regimes.
American Football Players
Across the pond, a host of retired NFL players were amongst the trailblazers who first started talking publicly about CBD. After years in such a gruelling sport, many retired players suffer with old injuries and aches years after hanging up their jerseys.
Huge names such as Terrell Davies, David Ahrens and Rob Gronkowski have reportedly benefitted from the pain relieving properties of CBD oil products.
Although it may not seem as physically challenging as the other sports in this list, golf has produced a great number of CBD advocates. One of the best-known of these is American golfer Lucas Glover, who is best known for winning the 2009 US Open.. When asked why he thought golfers in particular enjoyed the benefits of cannabidiol, he said that “the biggest benefit is calmness”.
Other notable names from the golfing world that have publicly supported CBD use include Charley Hoffman and Bubba Watson.
CBD products for athletes
There is a huge variety of products containing CBD oil available on the market, and the famous athletes listed in this post will likely use a range of different ones. As mentioned, the Diax brothers are known to vape using CBD-infused e-liquids, whereas other sports personalities are known to favour products such as capsules, massage oils and balms, and even infused coffees.
At Endo Sport, we specialise in CBD-infused sports drinks, which are growing in popularity amongst athletes of all levels. Whether taken before, during or after a workout, the drinks can help to increase energy, maintain focus and help speed up post-workout recovery. As well as providing people with the benefits of cannabidiol, they’re also perfect for re-hydrating the body during a workout, and replacing lost electrolytes.
For more information on our sports drinks, or how cannabidiol in general can help with performance, take a look at our post on CBD and Athletes.