Junior Open Wheel Talent

News and Views on Drivers Chasing Open-Wheel Stardom

Cannabis: Performance Enhancement?

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted November 12, 2008 at 10:49 pm open wheel racing news

Tony Kart junior team member Flavio Camponeschi was stripped of his KF2 victory in the CIK-FIA European Championship and suspended from participating in any CIK-FIA events for 6-months after failing to pass a drug test. Apparently the 16 year old had traces of cannabis in his urine during the World Cup (30 drivers were tested), which according to WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency) is a prohibited drug. The addition of cannabis to the Prohibited List was quite controversial and created a lot of questions regarding the performance enhancement of the drug.

WADA’s Director of Science had this to say about the addition of Cannabis to the Prohibited List:

“We have three criteria for including something on our list of prohibited substances and methods, at least two of which have to be met – performance enhancement, possible health dangers and a contravention of the spirit of sport.

We know full well that cannabis can alleviate feelings of fear which can help performance in some sports.

It is also risky for athletes and others around them as it can cause a distortion of perception and we also believe it violates the spirit of sport even though we understand it is mainly a social drug.”

First and foremost I would like to say that drug use in motorsports should not be tolerated and that Flavio should be held accountable for his use. With that said, I have a hard time dealing with the fact that the CIK-FIA disqualified him from the race he won, which happened to be the World Cup, and stripped him of his CIK-FIA license for 6 months. Let’s be honest, odds are that Camponeschi did not use the drug on the weekend of the World Cup; the press release directly from the CIK-FIA states that “traces” of the drug were found in his system. According to several websites, cannabis can remain in a users system for an extended time period; ranging from a few days to a month or more depending on usage. Did the use of the drug aide Flavios’s performance?….Absolutely not. Odds are that he used the drug recreationally away from the track, not during the World Cup race weekend. Instead of assuming though, let’s pretend he used the drug at the track prior to his race: Here is some info on the effects of cannabis to a driver. It could be just me, but those side effects do not sound beneficial to a race driver. (slower reactions, increased variability, more cautious etc.)

Should he have been punished by the FIA? … Absolutely, a driver should not be allowed to endanger themselves or others on a race track if they are under the influence of a drug. Should they have taken his KF2 World Cup title away and stripped him of his license for six months? …I think that’s a little over the top for a 16 year old. Suspending his license would have been enough. With that said, I’m not sure what kind of rule the CIK-FIA had set up previously for “doping”, it would appear none…. as their decision was made 51 days after the checkered flag flew. The ruling was decided by a Panel of Stewards assembled on November 11th at the CIK-FIA headquarters. Let’s hope they maintain their strict ruling for the next driver to violate their anti-doping policy.

Feel free to comment and discuss in the comment section below.

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