Can athletes take CBD?

can athletes take cbd

If you’re an athlete, you probably have asked yourself this question before “Can athletes take CBD? Is it illegal in UK sporting law?” Perhaps that’s a poor choice of wording. Of course, athletes can take CBD oil (pop a drop underneath your tongue and that’s all there is to it!). This question is more about (A) whether athletes are *allowed* to take CBD, and (B) whether they *should* take it.

So… what’s the answer?

Can Athletes Take CBD?

Competitive athletes have two things to consider here: UK law, and UK sporting law. Let’s start with the first one. Can Athletes take CBD in the UK? Is CBD legal in the UK? The answer is yes. CBD itself is perfectly legal in the UK, as long as it contains less than 0.2% THC, which is the compound that creates that infamous ‘high’. So from a legal perspective, athletes are absolutely allowed to take CBD that meets the guidelines set out by the Government.

How about from a UK sports perspective, then? Again, CBD is completely above board. It has been since January 2018 that the WADA, USADA, and UKADA all removed CBD from their list of prohibited substances, stating CBD was no longer considered to be a performance-enhancing substance. As of 2020, WADA-prohibited substances are:

  • Anabolic agents
  • Peptide hormones
  • Beta-2 agonists
  • Hormone modulators
  • Diuretics
  • Stimulants
  • Narcotics
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Beta-blockers


Cannabinoids, with the exception of CBD (THC is still a prohibited substance, which is worth keeping in mind if you choose a brand that’s not open about its THC content!).

Should Athletes Take CBD?

So if the WADA, USADA, and UKADA don’t consider CBD to be a performance-enhancing substance, then is it even worth it for athletes to consume CBD oil?

Here’s the thing. CBD isn’t about enhancing performance. It’s about addressing issues that may be going on inside the body to ensure you’re healthy enough, strong enough, and focused enough to perform to the very best of your body’s own natural ability.

Some studies have shown that CBD oil can help with:

  • Pain Relief

If you’re struggling with pain after a gruelling training session, CBD oil may be able to help alleviate your discomfort. Research shows it’s a really effective painkiller, and it could prove to be a pretty good alternative to habit-forming analgesics like opioids.

  • Stress Management

Is big competition on the horizon? CBD oil may help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, helping to keep you calm. If generalised anxiety disorder or panic disorder symptoms flare up prior to a big event, CBD might help you handle the situation better.

  • Sleep Improvement

If you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, you’ll often find that your performance can suffer as a result. Research suggests that CBD could help you rest easier by reducing the amount of time spent in REM sleep (this is the period when the mind is very active).

  • Reduction in Inflammation

Muscles and joints can easily become inflamed when they’re put under too much stress during intense training, but CBD oil might be able to help. It’s been shown to significantly reduce inflammation in the body, which may help your muscles to recover.

Is CBD Worth it for Athletes?

It’s your call. Only you can decide that. What we will say is that, yes, Athletes can take CBD in the UK and CBD is legal, approved for use by athletes, and scientifically proven to address some of the biggest problems experienced by athletes, like pain, inflammation, and stress. Sounds good, right?

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