This article is part of a ParaSport News series of articles looking at doping in the Paralympic, Deaflympic and disability sports movement.
Based on a ParaSports News analysis of doping violations in disability sport dating back to 1985, wheelchair basketball does not seem to have a huge doping problem. Among sports with known doping sanctions, wheelchair basketball ranks behind athletics (46) and powerlifting (89) with 21 sanctions. Most of these sanctions occurred between 2010 and 2013, when there were between 3 and 4 sanctions each year. Of the 21 sanctions, wheelchair basketball’s largest class of violations involves S8 class drugs, namely cannabinoids and their derivatives. Cannabinoids are more commonly known as marijuana.
The good news for wheelchair basketball is that these violations are a few years old, with no reported sanctions identified since 2013. This correlates to a rule change in 2013 which saw the threshold for a positive doping result for cannabinoids raise from 15 nanograms per millilitre to 150 ng/ml. That change had been lobbied for a several years as some sportspeople who had been sanctioned for marijuana violations had claimed that second-hand smoke could result in a positive doping result. The 2013 change also focused on being about in competition marijuana potential doping impairments or benefits as opposed to occasional recreational out of competition use. It was not just wheelchair basketball that saw their marijuana doping sanction totals drop as a result. The last sanction for cannabis reported by UK Anti-doping took place in November 2013, which saw a Paralympic powerlifter get a six-month ban from the sport.
Since the limit was increased and marijuana no longer became as easy to get a sanctionable offense with, wheelchair basketball’s only doping related sanction was in 2015. This involved a United States wheelchair basketball player who got a 2-year ban after a test refusal.
The data collected by ParaSport News for this report is available here for the benefit of other journalists and the sports community.