If you know anything about the properties of CBD, you’ll be able to guess that is highly beneficial for athletes.
CBD is good for managing pain and inflammation, reducing stress and anxiety, assisting with sleep and promoting a more healthy digestive system, all highly useful for athletes.
But that’s not all: there are a number of famous athletes who take CBD to aid with their training and recovery from competition. Not only are the numbers of professional athletes using CBD growing all the time, but so is the collection of famous athletes who are publicly advocating for the use of sports CBD products.
In this article, we’ll look at the current rules and regulations around CBD oil for athletes, why more and more professional athletes are choosing to use CBD, and share a list of 16 famous athletes who regular use, and in many cases actively promote CBD oil.
Let’s dive in.
Can athletes use CBD oil?
Many athletes want to use CBD oil, but may be hesitant to do so as they are worried that this may cause them to get an adverse result in a drug test that could see them fined or even banned from their sport. Student athletes regularly ask can “NCAA athletes use CBD oil and does CBD oil show up on a NCAA drug test?
CBD is one of around 100 cannabinoids, or unique compounds, that are found naturally in the cannabis plant. It is completely different from that other famous cannabinoid, THC, in that it is completely non-psychoactive and has no potential for addiction or overdose and has no significant side effects. CBD is many properties that make it beneficial to humans, notably anti-inflammatory effects and supporting the endocannabinoid system in the human body.
Given that CBD is a non-psychoactive, non-addictive compound, you would think that there would be no problem with athletes using it to aid with training and competition, just like they take vitamins and other supplements.
However, misinformation and confusion with THC and other forms of cannabinoids has meant that CBD was, until a few years ago, banned in many sporting competitions.
To learn more about CBD and drug tests in general, check out our recent blog article on the subject here. Of course, you also want to ensure that CBD is legal where you live: see our comprehensive guide to CBD legality in different countries and US states if you’re not sure.
When it comes to CBD and drug test for athletes, however, this comes down to the rules set by the sport’s governing body. These are the organisations that decide which substances are banned in competition and therefore which compounds are tested for. Each body determines its own rules, but they are all guided by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
So what’s the real story? Let’s take a look at what the WADA says about CBD.
The World Anti-Doping Agency and CBD
The World Anti-Doping Agency is an international and independent agency, established in 1999 and funding equally by governments and the sport movement across the world. The WADA has a number of diverse roles, from scientific research and education to developing anti-doping capacity and monitoring the World Anti-Doping Code, the document which harmonizes anti-doping policies across all sports and all countries.
The WADA says that all natural and synthetic cannabinoids are banned except for CBD (cannabidiol). So athletes are allowed to use CBD oil and other CBD products, but are prohibited from using hashish or marijuana.
This changed in 2017, when WADA removed CBD from its prohibited substances list. This means that athletes across almost every sport can now freely use CBD to help performance and recovery during both training and competitions.
Benefits of CBD for Athletes
This is just a snapshot of the reasons why more and more athletes are choosing to use CBD. For a more comprehensive look at the advantages and risks of CBD, as well as how to use it, check out this article.
One of the most well-known uses of CBD oil is for pain management. CBD has also been shown to reduce inflammation, which is a key component of aching muscles and stiff joints that occur following intense exercise and are common for athletes. A 2016 study, for example, showed that CBD significantly reduced inflammation and pain symptoms in rats.
These properties make CBD highly useful for athletes, allowing them to recover more quickly from training and competition, as well as managing the pain associated with the injuries that are all too common in professional sport.
Support the Digestive System
Gastrointestinal problems are inconvenient in daily life, but they can be detrimental for athletes. In fact, digestive issues are one of the main reasons that athletes drop out of competition or races. Dehydration and overheating caused by intense exercise can also exacerbate underlying gastrointestinal problems.
This makes CBD and its role in promoting better digestive health extremely useful for athletes. CBD works on the cannabinoid receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, which controls the pars of our body associated with regulation and control, including the thyroid gland, pituitary gland, pancreas and kidneys. This, in turn, promotes better digestive health and appetite as well as boosting your mood. CBD can also help to reduce inflammation in the digestive system, a common underlying cause of gastrointestinal problems.
High-quality sleep is also essential for athletes. A good night’s sleep before a competition could make all the difference to the result, and regular, quality sleep is critical to support proper training. Many of our body’s most vital processes occur while we sleep, including repairing damage and building new tissue.
This makes sleep vital to muscle growth, not to mention focus and concentration. Research has shown that CBD can help to improve sleep duration and quality, particularly for people who struggle to sleep due to anxiety. You can read more about the research and the link between CBD and better sleep in this recent blog post.
Reduce Anxiety and Stress
There is no doubt that modern athletes need to deal with incredible pressures of competition, being held to extremely high performance anxiety. For many, this causes significant stress and anxiety. CBD has been shown to be helpful in reducing anxiety and managing stress: check this article on CBD and anxiety for more. This makes it ideal for helping athletes manage the stress and anxiety associated with competition and other high-pressure aspects of their career.
Famous Athletes who use CBD
Given the many benefits of CBD for athletic performance, training and recovery, it is not surprising how many athletes are using the component. These include some of the world’s most famous players in a range of sports.
Let’s take a look at the stars of rugby, boxing, NFL and more who have been enjoying the benefits of CBD for years.
1. George Kruis
Rugby player George Kruis is a regular CBD user and a vocal advocate of the compound. George Kruis is a renowned rugby player with over 12 years’ professional experience, including five successful seasons with the Saracens and as a member of the England Performance Squad. He now plays with Japanese side the Panasonic Wild Knights.
George has first referred to CBD by his then Saracens teammate Dominic Day. Day had started including a CBD supplement in his daily routine to help him recover from a knee injury and had been very impressed by the instant improvement. He knew it would also be beneficial for Kruis in helping him to recover from recent ankle surgery.
2. James Haskell
Another English Rugby player who takes CBD is James Haskell. The retired rugby player is one of the UK’s most famous rugby internationals and has 78 senior England caps. After retiring from the sport he signed up with MMA outfit Bellator, and is renowned for is dedicated training and fitness regime, as well as the impressive physique he has as a result.
Haskell and his wife Chloe Madeley, a fitness influence, also have a strong social media presence. They share a great deal of content about fitness and nutrition, mostly focusing on better training and recovery. He has released a number of YouTube videos about the benefits of CBD, where he shares how we and Madeley like to take CBD before a workout.
3. Ben Franks
Ben Franks, probably one of the world’s top rugby players, in another CBD fan. The Australian-born athlete debuted his career with New Zealand teams the Crusaders and the Hurricanes, before moving to England to play with the London Irish and then the Northampton Saints. In his 20 year career, he has so far secured two Rugby World Cup titles and almost 50 caps for the All Blacks.
Franks has spoken about how he has used CBD for years, well before it became a popular supplement for athletes. He was first recommended to use CBD by a team mate, and has been using it to improve his training and performance ever since.
4. Megan Rapinoe, Women’s Soccer
Women’s soccer legend Megan Rapinoe is not only an exceptional ball player and feminist icon, she is also an enthusiastic advocate for CBD. Her successful career stretches back to the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship in 2004. She has competed on teams in the US, Europe and Australia, and now plays for the Seattle Reign Football Club. She has been widely praised for her superb leadership of the US Women’s National Team, taking them to gold in the 2012 Olympics as well as the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Rapinoe has spoken publically of the advantages of CBD as a healthy, natural method to manage pain, promote better sleep and assist with general recovery. She’s also discussed the importance of changing the “status quo” around pain management in sports and the capacity of CBD to do this.
American Football Players
5. Rob Gronkowski, NFL Player
Rob Gronkowski is a celebrated player in the US’ National Football League (NFL). A former leading player with the New England Patriots, he now plays with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His career to date has included three Super Bowl wins, and he was selected in the NFL’s 2010’s All-Decade Team and the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Gronkowski has spoken out about the benefits of CBD for athletes, speaking about the difference CBD would have made had he used it to recover from his injuries. He has publically called for the NFL and other governing bodies to legalise the use of CBD oil for injury recovery.
6. Eugene Monroe, NFL Player
Eugene Munroe is another US NFL player who has been vocal in his support for CBD use, particularly by athletes. Munroe was a very successful NFL player who played with the Jackson Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens. He retired in 2016 at age 29 over concerns about head trauma he’d sustained throughout his career.
Munroe became the first active NFL player to advocate for CBD and cannabis in 2014, publically arguing that CBD should be used to treat sports-related injuries and chronic pain. He called on the NFL to halt testing players for cannabis, saying that this is a safer alternative than many commonly-prescribed medications.
6. Mike Tyson, Boxing
Mike Tyson is not only one of the most famous names in boxing, but he is also probably the athlete who is the most vocal is promoting CBD. Tyson was a champion boxer and was the undisputed world heavyweight champion from 1987 to 1990. He was the first heavyweight boxer to hold to WBA, WBC and IBF titles simultaneously.
Tyson has not only been very vocal in promoting the benefits of CBD, but he has also publically stated that he uses CBD for training, as well as using it both before and after fights. He has been a supporter of CBD for years. Tyson also has his own legal marijuana farm and company that sells cannabis products.
7. Nate Diaz, UFC
Nate Diaz is a leading athlete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), a lightweight fighter with 19 recorded wins out of 30 fights. He was also crowned The Ultimate Fighter 5. He also enjoyed attention-grabbing wins against Ray Maynard, Donald Cerrone and Connor McGregor, the latter fight breaking the record for pay-per-view in the sport.
Diaz is a regular user of CBD, and has not only publically advocated for its use but has used it in public appearances in front of the media. He generated a fair amount of attention when he vaped cannabidiol at the post-fight press conference following his famous face-off with Connor McGregor. He took the opportunity to talk about the positive impacts the compound has on the human body and explain how he takes CBD to help to heal his body and reduce inflammation.
8. Alex Montagnani, BMMA
British Mixed Martial Arts (BMMA) star Alex Montagnani competes at welterweight and has a stunning professional record of 10 wins to just three losses so far. He is known in the sport as the “Mean Albatross” for his tenacious and relentless fighting style.
Montagnani widely advocates for CBD on social media, and CBD oil in particular. Likely many of his fellow athletes, he’s shared how CBD oil has allowed him to take is training to another level, greatly improving his recovery and promoting better all-round health.
9. Kieran Kevan
Bodybuilding is an exceptionally competitive discipline that is extremely demanding on their athletes. Kieren Kevan is the reigning UK Drug Free Bodybuilding Association (UKDFBA) British champion and a role model for many in the sport.
Kevan is also a vocal CBD user, regularly sharing his passion for CBD products on Instagram. He describes how CBD is useful in helping his muscles relax after a workout as well as aiding with recovery post-competition. Kevan has also shared how he uses CBD to reduce stress and manage anxiety.
10. Tomas Wolfe, Bodybuilding
UK Bodybuilding Fitness Federation (UKBFF) Northwest champion Tomas Wolfe is one of the biggest names in UK bodybuilding at the moment. He has also become a staunch fan of CBD throughout his career, and often promotes its benefits to his growing fan base. In particular, he talks about the power of CBD to reduce anxiety and manage emotions in the human brain, which is particularly useful when dealing with the stresses of competition.
11. Paul Pierce, NBA
Seasoned National Basketball Association (NBA) Paul Pierce played a total of 19 seasons in the sport, many of those as captain of the Boston Celtics. During his career, he earned 10 All-Star selections and was a four time All-NBA team member. He is now an analyst on ESPN shows The Jump and NBA Countdown.
Pierce uses CBD for a very specific reason: to manage depression and anxiety following a traumatic event. In 2000, at the height of his career, he was the victim of a violent attack in a Boston nightclub. The attack, where he was stabbed 11 times and had a bottle smashed in his face, left him with emotional scars. CBD has greatly helped to deal with his subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and extreme anxiety, and allowed him to continue to play professional basketball after the attack.
12. Charley Hoffman, Golfer
CBD is becoming especially common in the golfing field, with a number of professional golfers becoming involved in the CBD industry in one way or another. The professional US golfer has had four PGA tour wins to date, and has won a total of six international tournaments.
Hoffman has shared how CBD has helped him with post-competition recovery, as well as reducing pre-competition nerves. Other famous golfers who are known to use CBD include Bubba Watson and Lucas Glover.
13. Eddie Hall, Strongman
Officially crowned the World’s Strongest Man in 2017, Eddie Hall is one of the most physically powerful men on earth. He was the first, and to date only, many to deadlift 500kg (over 1,102 lbs) in international competition.
Hall is also a regular CBD user and often speaks publically about its ability to improve physical wellbeing and aid with recovery. He has also made efforts in the field of CBD awareness raising, helping to educate the public about this 100% natural compound and dispel myths about the link between THC and CBD.
14. Albee Layer, Surfing
Hawaiian surfer Albee Layer is another proponent of CBD for athletes. The pro surfer is well known for not only his prowess in the waves, but also his raw, progressive style that pushes the boundaries of the sport. He debuted in the 2008 season and continues to compete at a global level.
Layer first started taking CBD while recovering from his second hip surgery and was highly impressed. Since then, he’s been a vocal supporter of CBD products, proudly promoting their benefits for pain management as well as for better daily health.
15. Ross Rebagliati, Olympic Snowboarder
Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati is not only a leader in his sport, he also won the first ever gold medal for snowboarding, taking the gold for Men’s Snowboarding at the 1998 Winter Olympics. Rebagliati is an active supporter of not just CBD but also medical cannabis, having his own medical marijuana business.
He has spoken about how we believes CBD has the most health benefits and can be very effective in treating a range of medical conditions. He is a strong proponent for CBD for athletes and non-athletes alike.
16. Brooke Ence, CrossFit
There are also a number of CrossFitters who have embraced the CBD trend. Amateur and professional CrossFit athletes alike have adopted CBD oil and other CBD products to aid with training and recovery.
Brooke Ence is one elite CrossFit Athlete who has publically promoted the benefits of CBD. She said that she’s been taking CBD for quite some time and that it has been very valuable for her training and for her life in general. Other professional CrossFitters, including five times Games athlete Noah Ohlsen and four times Games athlete Alex Anderson have shared how they noticed significant improvements in their training and recovery since adopting CBD.
Given the many benefits of CBD for athletes, from pain management and reducing inflammation, to improved sleep and better digestive health, it is no surprise that so many athletes are big fans of the compound.
Whether you are one of the world’s most famous players or an amateur athlete, there seems little doubt that CBD could be extremely useful to support performance in both training and competition.
Although the world’s leading authority on drugs and sport, the WADA, has ruled that athletes are free to use CBD, it is always important to check the rules set by your sport’s own governing body, as well as the laws where you live.
Otherwise, you’ll find it worthwhile learning more about how CBD could help you to improve performance, aid with training and assist in recovery to make you a better athlete.Check out our other articles for more on the benefits and uses of CBD, and keep your eye on our blog for new posts!