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Tag: olympics

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Olympic Gold Medalist Joseph Schooling Has Nothing To Apologize For

No adult should ever have to apologize for the act of simply consuming cannabis. Unfortunately, it is something that elite athletes have to do all of the time, and in a very public way. The latest example of that can be found in the saga involving Olympic gold medalist Joseph Schooling, who was recently ‘caught’ admitting to cannabis use that allegedly occurred months prior outside of his home country. As a result, Schooling is facing competition-based penalties in addition to enormous, and completely unwarranted, public shaming.

The elite swimmer, who is 27 years old, did not even test positive for cannabis use. Rather, it was reported that he simply admitted to consuming cannabis as part of an investigation by authorities in Singapore, with a fellow national swimmer also reportedly being a target of the investigation. Professional athletes around the world are consistently subjected to cannabis stigma, including the opponent that Schooling defeated on his way to becoming a national hero in Singapore.

Passing The Stigma Torch

Swimmer Joseph Schooling became an international sensation in 2016 when he defeated arguably the most famous swimmer of all time, the United States’ Michael Phelps, in the 100-meter butterfly. After winning the gold medal in 2016, Schooling was hailed by virtually everyone in Singapore as a national hero, and rightfully so. After all, Schooling wasn’t just the first swimmer from Singapore to become an Olympic champion – he was the country’s first Olympic champion ever for any category. It’s a distinction that he holds to this day.

Yet, despite all of the sacrifice and hard work and glory, Schooling is being torn to shreds by people inside and outside of Singapore due to the revelation that he consumed cannabis in May 2022 while traveling. As if somehow he should only be measured by admitting to consuming a plant that is 114 times safer than alcohol. For cannabis consuming sports fans in the United States such as myself, the public shaming that Schooling is going through is all too familiar.

Michael Phelps, who Schooling famously defeated in 2016, was also subjected to a horrific level of stigma when a picture surfaced of him hitting a bong in 2009. Much like Schooling, Phelps was endlessly ridiculed and presumably forced to issue a public apology for ‘letting everyone down’ at the time. This, despite Phelps winning 23 gold medals in the name of the very country that largely turned on him for being labeled in the mainstream media as a ‘pothead.’

No Apologies Needed

Make no mistake about it – when professional athletes are forced to issue public apologies after a cannabis-consumption ‘offense’ occurs, it is 100% public relations in nature and it only serves to further the objectives of cannabis prohibitionists in society. Schooling’s cannabis use in May of 2022, assuming it actually occurred, obviously did not harm anyone. Had authorities in Singapore not forced a confession out of him, no one would have even known or cared about it.

However, they did find out about it, and in a country where people can still receive the death penalty for cannabis only offenses, Schooling went from national hero to ‘a national disgrace’ and that is pathetic to say the least. It’s obvious that the government is using Schooling to push its reefer madness agenda, which is presumably why there was a public apology in the first place, and there was also likely a concerted effort to drum up media coverage of the public apology. If that is all true, and authorities in Singapore are willing to do it to someone of Schooling’s fame and status, clearly it’s something that can happen to anyone in Singapore, and that’s a scary thought.

Whether Schooling’s confession was forced or not is ultimately moot because as far as I am concerned there was nothing for him to apologize for in the first place. People consume cannabis all over the world every single day, and that has been the case for thousands of years. Cannabis use on its own is not wrong. Cannabis prohibition is wrong, and that is true when it comes to sports just as much as it is true when it comes to the rest of society.

joseph schooling, olympics, singapore

track and field sports athlete exercise

World Athletics President: Reconsider Cannabis Policies

Athletic competition plays a huge role in society across the planet. Some sports are more popular than others in any given part of the world, however, you will be hard pressed to find a part of the world that doesn’t have athletes competing in some fashion, as well as fans watching them do it.

With that in mind, it’s not a coincidence that professional athletes, including Olympic athletes, have been used for cannabis prohibition propaganda purposes. Prohibition in sports serves the purpose of perpetuating support for cannabis prohibition in society. Anyone that says otherwise hasn’t paid attention. Professional sports leagues and regulatory bodies are starting to reform their cannabis policies, yet historically that was not the case.

Growing Calls For Reform

Late last week the President of World Athletics, Sebastian Coe, indicated support for reviewing the sports regulatory body’s cannabis policies. The hinting at a cannabis policy review came right before the beginning of the track and field World Championships.

“I have actually encouraged our own Athletics Integrity Unit to enter into discussions with the World-Anti Doping Agency, and obviously the national anti-doping agencies, to look at this and to come back with some thoughts and suggestions,” Coe said according to Insider.

It makes no sense why track and field athletes, or any other athletes, would be penalized for simply having cannabis in their system. After all, no one is advocating that athletes should be able to compete while intoxicated by cannabis (or anything else for that matter). Cannabis is not ‘bad for athletes’ as some prohibitionists claim, and while cannabis does provide wellness benefits, those benefits do not rise to the level of it warranting continued prohibition under the premise that ‘cannabis is a performance-enhancing substance.’

Making An Example Out Of Athletes

If you have followed sports long enough, then chances are you have seen an athlete fail a drug test for cannabis at least once. That is what happened to my hero multiple times, former NBA player Clifford Robinson, during his 18-year playing career. Each time he failed a league drug test it wasn’t just the penalty of getting fined or missing games that he had to deal with.

Robinson was consistently subjected to enormous and unjust stigma each time, being described by the media and league officials as ‘having let his team down’ and having ‘off the court problems’ that ‘makes it hard to have him be a part of the franchise.’ In every measurable way Robinson, who I would later become friends with and help with his pursuits in various manners, was the target of a relentless smear campaign because the league wanted to make an example out of him, and to some extent that targeting involved prohibitionists outside of the league.

It’s a stigma that followed him well into retirement, preventing him from ever getting coaching positions he wanted, from being invited to various league functions, and many other things. I know that to be true because I witnessed it firsthand while helping him. To hammer home the point, the team Cliff was an all-star for, my beloved Portland Trail Blazers, does not have his number hanging in the rafters and I have yet to find any pictures or references of him at the Blazers’ arena, despite Robinson being the only ‘6th Man of the Year’ recipient in the team’s entire history.

As far as I am concerned, not only does the NBA need to recognize Clifford’s contributions to the league during his historic career, the league also needs to issue a formal apology to him and every other athlete that was subjected to inhumane cannabis policies. The same needs to happen in every other major sports league, the Olympics, and by other athletic entities that enforced cannabis prohibition policies, including World Athletics.

olympics, world athletics

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