Cannabidiol in sport: Ergogenic or else?

Pharmacol Res. 2020 Jun:156:104764. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2020.104764. Epub 2020 Mar 20.


In the sports domain, cannabis is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) across all sports in competition since 2004. The few studies on physical exercise and cannabis focused on the main compound i.e. Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Cannabidiol (CBD) is another well-known phytocannabinoid present in dried or heated preparations of cannabis. Unlike Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, CBD is non-intoxicating but exhibits pharmacological properties that are interesting for medical use. The worldwide regulatory status of CBD is complex and this compound is still a controlled substance in many countries. Interestingly, however, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from the list of prohibited substances - in or out of competition - since 2018. This recent decision by the WADA leaves the door open for CBD use by athletes. In the present opinion article we wish to expose the different CBD properties discovered in preclinical studies that could be further tested in the sport domain to ascertain its utility. Preclinical studies suggest that CBD could be useful to athletes due to its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anxiolytic, neuroprotective properties and its influence on the sleep-wake cycle. Unfortunately, almost no clinical data are available on CBD in the context of exercise, which makes its use in this context still premature.

Keywords: Anxiolytic; Cannabidiol; Cannabis; Doping; Neuroprotective; Sleep-wake cycle.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cannabidiol / adverse effects
  • Cannabidiol / therapeutic use*
  • Doping in Sports*
  • Humans
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / adverse effects
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / therapeutic use*
  • Sleep Aids, Pharmaceutical / therapeutic use


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances
  • Sleep Aids, Pharmaceutical
  • Cannabidiol