Why Aren’t Psychedelic Drugs Prohibited in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics?

The truth is that scientists don’t know enough about them. And research into any athletic-enhancing capabilities they may have is lacking.


The 2021 Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan are coming to an end this week with the closing ceremonies scheduled for Sunday at 7:00 AM EST. Last month, controversy erupted surrounding the 1-month suspension of US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson for testing positive for marijuana.1 Although Ms. Richardson was not using the plant to give her an edge in competition, evidence of it in the bodies of athletes is still prohibited.

Psychedelic Science Review took a closer look at the list of prohibited substances as identified by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in Montréal, Canada.2 The WADA publication lists a variety of substances, including cannabinoids, stimulants, and narcotics as prohibited. But interestingly, no psychedelic drugs are mentioned.

But the question arises, do psychedelics even make people better athletes?

Psychedelics and Improved Sports Performance

In 2019, Steven Machek of Baylor University wrote in the Journal of Exercise and Nutrition,

Given the propensity of subjective psychedelic benefit, microdosing practice warrants further investigation on its ability to augment athletic endeavors.3

His paper provides an overview of the literature on psychedelics and improved athletic performance from both a physiological and psychological perspective. From his work, Machek also concluded that,

A preponderance of subjective claims and fervent anecdote indicate[s] psychedelics may enhance mental acuity and subsequent exercise performance.

However, research into the sports-enhancing effects of psychedelics remains at a standstill.


It appears that insufficient data exist to determine if psychedelics are performance-enhancers and should be on the WADA list. It’s still a very new area of research even from a pharmaceutical and subjective effects standpoint. And apparently, no one in any official capacity is studying their effects on athletic performance. This is another wide-open area of psychedelic science for the curious researcher to study.

Barb Bauer Headshot

Barb is the former Editor and one of the founders of Psychedelic Science Review. She is currently a contributing writer. Her goal is making accurate and concise psychedelic science research assessable so that researchers and private citizens can make informed decisions.


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