This MMA fighter takes on the stigma of cannabis in sport


Theodorou is the first professional athlete in North America to be licensed to use medical cannabis

Mixed fight artist Elias Theodorou recently left the ring to attend MJBizCon, a conference and exhibition on the cannabis industry in Las Vegas. The Canadian athlete was there for a mission: to promote organizations and brands that strive to break the stigma associated with cannabis use.

As a pioneer in the field of cannabis, people have been receptive to his message. He broke new ground in professional sport and says he is just getting started.

First Canadian to win The Ultimate Fighter

Born and raised in Mississauga, Ontario, Theodorou developed a passion for skateboarding. Many times injured, he even underwent a bone marrow transplant following a serious injury to his wrist. Then the high school and the university where he studied advertising, it was at this time that he developed a passion for mixed Marian arts (MMA). Excelling in this field, he became a star known as "The Spartan" referring to his Greek origins.

After high school, he enrolled in college to study advertising. It was during this time that he discovered a passion for mixed martial arts (MMA), which he finally chose as a professional path. He excelled in his sport and became an elite competitor known as “Spartan” thanks to his Greek heritage and his powerful build.

In 2014, when he was 25, he became the first Canadian to win The Ultimate Fighter, a reality TV show that features MMA fighters competing for a contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. (UFC), a United States-based MMA promotion company.

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Opioids before medical cannabis

With all of his fights and injuries from his youthful days and as a middleweight in the UFC, took a heavy toll on his health and when his doctors diagnosed him with bilateral neuropathy (nerve damage) he felt bad. turned to cannabis rather than opioids. He then wrote an open letter to the United States Anti-Doping Agency begging the federation to allow him to use cannabis for pain relief, without penalties.

He felt he was at a disadvantage in the ring because of his condition. For Theodorou, cannabis is an effective treatment when other drugs such as opioids have caused him "unpleasant, exhausting and even debilitating side effects".

“Sports officials are trying to educate people about drug use,” he says, looking back. "If it wasn't sad, it would be funny if they encouraged me to take opioids."

USADA officials operate in an outdated system

Despite the ineffectiveness of conventional drugs the USADA asked him to exhaust all other medical options, including prescription pain relievers before considering making an exception, leaving him in utter frustration but still determined to make his voice heard. voice.

While thriving in the cage - he was ranked in the top 15 of all UFC competitors - he continued to promote the therapeutic value of cannabis. His plea ruffled the feathers of the UFC, which released him in the spring of 2019. At the time, he had won eight games and lost only three.

British Columbia grants therapeutic use exemption

Yet in December 2019, he attended a game in Windsor, Ont., Where organizers did not test competitors for cannabis use. He won by technical knockout and attributed his success to the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.

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A month later, the British Columbia Athletic Commission granted him an exceptional authorization for the therapeutic use of medical cannabis without penalty, also authorizing its use during training and in preparation for competitions.

He was the first professional athlete in North America to receive this exemption.

The commission's decision is based on a panel of independent doctors who determined that Mr Theodorou would have serious health problems if he did not take cannabis, that cannabis was not a performance-enhancing drug and that 'no other treatment could effectively treat his condition.

This is a big victory for Theodorou and the other advocates of medical cannabis.

The state of Colorado followed suit by also granting Theodorou an exemption from medical cannabis use, making him the first professional athlete in the United States to obtain one.

 It was surreal. It took BC officials years to give me this exemption, but it happened very quickly in Colorado. I was stunned. At that point, I decided to fight to obtain an exemption for therapeutic use State by State, country by country if necessary ”he said. declared

Theodorou works with Athletes for CARE, an organization that works in research, education and compassion when it comes to finding solutions for athlete health issues, and he talks about cannabis to his peers. .

“Champions and other athletes have contacted me to ask me questions about the benefits of cannabis,” he says. “First and foremost, I advise them to talk to their doctor about it because we need a professional check-up when we take medical cannabis. I took this step and it changed my life. "

Tags : CanadaProhibitionsports

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