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CBD for athletes and why isolate is the best

Here we look at the benefits of CBD for athletes and why isolate is the best form to use for sports performance and recovery, while ensuring compliance with sport regulations.

A few years back, it wasn’t clear that cannabidiol (CBD) would be cleared as a legal substance for athletes participating in official, competitive events.

However, world sport governing bodies, including the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), removed it from their list of banned substances in 2018.

This means that the delayed 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo were the first games in which participating athletes were permitted to take CBD.

WADA’s advice for participating athletes is relatively clear – but it does come with a warning.

“CBD is not prohibited; however, athletes should be aware that some CBD oils and tinctures extracted from cannabis plants, may also contain THC and other cannabinoids that could result in a positive test for a prohibited cannabinoid.”


So, whether you’re an Olympic athlete or amateur sportsperson, you still need to be aware of the risks that exist from taking certain CBD products.

What is THC?

THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol and is a crystalline compound that produces the ‘high’ feeling that can be felt when taking cannabis. THC is a banned substance according to most world sporting bodies.

What CBD products are available for athletes and which ones contain THC?

There are three main types of CBD products to choose from: full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate.

Full-spectrum CBD contains all compounds naturally occurring in the cannabis plant, including THC.

Broad-spectrum CBD is made up of most of the same compounds as full-spectrum, but with limited quantities of THC.

It is worth noting that broad-spectrum CBD products will usually contain some small traceable elements of THC.

Singularly extracted from its source, CBD isolate contains no other elements of the cannabis plant and is completely THC-free.

CBD Isolate is the purest form of CBD, has a mild taste and odour and has no psychoactive effects whatsoever.

Why do athletes take CBD Isolate?

There has been a sharp uptake of athletes and sports stars not only taking CBD in recent years but actively advocating its use.

CBD products are particularly popular with MMA fighters and those in martial arts disciplines, as well as weightlifters and bodybuilders – those who put their bodies under enormous pressure in the pursuit of glory in their chosen discipline.

CBD is also increasingly used by professional sportsmen and women such as golfers, rugby players, footballers and racket sports players.

There are good reasons for this. Studies have shown numerous benefits of CBD for sports performance, including as a recovery aid due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

The endocannabinoid system which is found in all humans, is a biological system involved in maintaining health and wellbeing that interacts positively with CBD.

CBD contains natural endocannabinoids which can help to keep the endocannabinoid system functioning optimally. This is ideal for elite and amateur athletes alike.

Find out more about the endocannabinoid system.

As CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD (98+% purity) and does not contain THC or any other psychoactive components.

This means that CBD isolate products allow you to easily ingest specific quantities of CBD and control dosage without having to worry about THC or any other controlled substances.

CBD contains natural endocannabinoids which can help to keep the endocannabinoid system functioning optimally. This is ideal for elite and amateur athletes alike.

What kinds of CBD Isolate products are available?

CBD isolate is a pure form of cannabidiol and is particularly stable and versatile in what it can be mixed with. This makes it easy to use, apply or ingest.

CBD isolate can be infused into edibles like softgels, added to liquids and drinks such as teas and juices, and mixed with carrier oils for massaging into the skin.

A topical CBD isolate product can be applied directly to a painful area or strained muscle. CBD is absorbed into the body through the skin.

The Legal Status of CBD Isolate for Athletic Events

There are two strands to CBD legality to consider with regards to sporting competitions.

First is the legal status of the compound in the relevant country in which the competition takes place.
CBD, so long as it does not contain more than the permitted percentage of THC as set out by law, is legal in all developed countries.
Second is the status of CBD as it applies to sport’s world governing bodies, such as the International Testing Agency (ITA) that provides drug testing at the Olympics, alongside the WADA.

In a recent high-profile case, the United States Anti-Doping Agency has stated, ‘… a consumer who buys a CBD oil, extract, or other CBD product should be aware that there is a high likelihood it is a mixture of CBD and other prohibited cannabinoids, such as THC.’

There is a growing school of thought in sports that CBD isolate is the best choice for sportspeople.

This is because it is guaranteed that CBD isolate will only contain CBD and none of the other cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
All of these other cannabinoids are banned by WADA.

Summary – Advice for all Professional and Amateur Athletes

Evidence continues to mount of the benefits of CBD oil for athletes.

However, the individual athlete must take responsibility and be very careful when selecting which CBD products to consume ensuring they are of the highest quality and manufactured to the strictest standards.

Those considering the use of CBD for athletes should also pay close attention to updates from governing bodies to ensure that they are always competing within the rules that apply to in their chosen field. Isolate-based products can provide the highest level of comfort for competitive athletes given the purity of CBD and the absence of all illegal and psychoactive components.

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