Decorated Canadian MMA fighter Elias Theodorou has become the first professional athlete to ever receive a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for medical cannabis in the combat and professional sports world.
After years of groundwork, the UFC veteran recently applied for a (TUE) with the British Columbia Athletic Commission, based upon his well-documented medical use of cannabis. The Commission granted this historic TUE after determining that Theodorou’s application satisfied the necessary medical criteria for approval. Becoming the first athletic governing body to deem cannabis as a medicine in professional sports, this approval has set a precedent for future athletes not only in BC but other jurisdictions where medical cannabis is recognized.
A TUE allows “The Spartan” Theodorou to continue his doctor-prescribed use of medicinal cannabis and protects him from penalty if he tests above the previous threshold for in-competition use. He will follow the guidelines provided by the athletic commission regarding fight-week medical use.
During his time with the UFC, Theodorou became the first professional athlete to apply for a medical cannabis TUE while under the promotions joint partnership with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), a member of (WADA). Although it was not approved during his UFC tenure, his application and subsequent advocacy garnered positive interest on the matter.
Medical cannabis remains a prohibited substance in most combat sports jurisdictions, but its negative perception as a performance enhancer is changing. The World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) recently removed CBD as a prohibited substance, and many athletic commissions have followed suit by drastically reducing the penalties connected with cannabis violations.
“I am grateful both as a patient and an athlete for the approval of my medical cannabis TUE by the BC Athletic Commission, recognizing my fundamental Canadian right to medicate as prescribed by my medical doctor,” said Theodorou. “I remain committed to fighting the negative stigma of medical cannabis, not only for myself but for all athletes.
Theodorou, the Toronto, Ontario, Canada native, started training in MMA as a college student and went on to pursue a professional fighting career after graduating. Theodorou represented Canada on The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia, emerging as the Middleweight winner and then signed with the UFC. In the promotion, he amassed an impressive eight-and-three record, never being (T)KO’d or submitted.
No stranger to breaking barriers, Elias Theodorou is also MMA’s first-ever “Ring Boy,” for Invicta Fighting Championships, the premier women’s MMA promotion, and many other organizations.