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Skateboarder Cory Juneau Suspended After Testing Positive for Cannabis

It was a burning question the moment the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced in August 2016 that skateboarding would make its debut at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo: How long before a world-class skateboarder tested positive for cannabis?

Because skateboarding is joining the Olympic program at Tokyo 2020, anti-doping organizations around the world have started drug testing competitors. And now we have what appears to be the first suspension of an American skateboarder.

Cory Juneau, a 19-year-old pro skater from Southern California currently ranked seventh in the world, was suspended six months after testing positive for THC, the main psychoactive element in marijuana.

The 19-year-old tested positive for the main psychoactive constituent of the drug during a competition in Brazil called the Oi Park Jam, on January 28 last year.

Under United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) rules, the use of marijuana outside of competition is not prohibited, though athletes could face sanctions if it is found in their system during events.

The park specialist, ranked fourth in the world for the discipline, was tested by the Brazilian Anti-Doping Agency, who then handed the case over to USADA with Juneau’s consent.

The Olympics’ Affect on Cannabis in Skate Culture

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In an essay for Medium published Oct. 8, 2018, Tony Hawk outlined the arguments for and against the inclusion of skateboarding in the Olympics. Skaters will always be judged on ability, Hawk argued. The community must also consider the opportunity to present skateboarding in a positive light, the potential it holds for young people in developing countries, and the recognition it will bring.

But there are also major reservations. “Will we hear Dead Kennedys blasting from the sound system?” Hawk asked.

Like music, cannabis is deeply woven into the story of skateboarding and its popularization. Skateboarding has always had a conflicted relationship with both the law mainstream culture, and skateboarders have a history of ignoring rules they see as unjust.

Most skating competitions, including the X Games, do not have a history of testing participants, and it remains unclear why Juneau was tested at Oi Park Jam.

Some Olympic competitors must submit their whereabouts to WADA in order to test for anabolic agents, which are banned in- and out-of competition, with a short test window. But cannabis is banned only in competition, defined as 12 hours before the start of activity.

Most skating competitions, including the X Games, do not have a history of testing participants, and it remains unclear why Juneau was tested at Oi Park Jam.

Some Olympic competitors must submit their whereabouts to WADA in order to test for anabolic agents, which are banned in- and out-of competition, with a short test window. But cannabis is banned only in competition, defined as 12 hours before the start of activity.

But there has been some opposition to its inclusion from the skateboarding community because they believe it is the opposite of its anti-establishment roots.

There was similar criticism from snowboarders before that sport made its Olympic debut at Nagano 1998.

Canada’s Ross Rebagliati won the giant slalom before testing positive for marijuana.

He was allowed to keep the gold medal because, at the time, marijuana was not on the banned list.

Rebagliati now owns a medical marijuana business.

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