Elias Theodorou, Pioneer of Medical Marijuana in Sports, Dies at 34

On September 11, at his home in Woodbridge, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto, Elias Theodorou passed away. He was a brilliant and charismatic mixed martial arts fighter who fought for reforms to the drug policies of his sport and is widely regarded as the first professional athlete to be granted a therapeutic exemption to use marijuana. He was 34.

Elias Theodorou Cause of Death

According to Michael, his brother, cancer had spread from the colon to the liver.

Many professional athletes are suspected of using marijuana for various reasons, including relief from pain and anxiety and increased concentration, despite the fact that its use is prohibited or subject to strict regulations in the majority of sports. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, led to the three-month suspension of golfer Matt Every by the PGA Tour in 2019, and it led to the effective disqualification of American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson from the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Theodorou didn’t want to be the next victim because he had bilateral neuropathy, which gave him tingling pain in his hands and arms. His strategy for winning approval to use marijuana while training and preparing for a fight was as deliberate and methodical as his fighting style.

elias theodorou cause of death
elias theodorou cause of death

He carefully assembled evidence, including medical records, statements from doctors and lawyers, and documentation of his own unsuccessful searches for alternatives to controlled substances like opioids.

“What I’m trying to strive for is an even playing field,” he told Forbes in 2021. “Anyone with the same kind of injury would be able to take a handful of Vicodin to go and fight and it wouldn’t be an issue.”

Since most jurisdictions’ laws regarding performance-enhancing substances in sports like MMA vary, he had to constantly adjust his proposal to conform to new rules. In 2020, he was given the green light by the British Columbia Athletic Commission, and the following year, he was given the same treatment by the Colorado Athletic Commission. He engaged in battle in both courts and was preparing to apply for additional exemptions when he was diagnosed with cancer in January.

His attorney, Eric Magraken, claims that his client is the first professional athlete in North America and possibly the first in the world to be granted such an exemption.

Before taking up the cause of medical marijuana, Theodorou was already a widely admired sports figure.

He entered the MMA scene with a bang in 2011, went undefeated for the next four years, and in 2014 signed a contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the top promotion company for MMA.

Elias Michael Theodorou was born on May 31, 1988, in Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto. He is the son of Gary Theodorou, a computer engineer for the camera company Ricoh, and Mimi (Bouloukou) Theodorou, a vice president of operations for Bank of America. His family consists of his parents and his brother.

Elias, unlike the vast majority of MMA fighters, got his start in life as a skateboarder. He didn’t start training until his first year at Humber College in Toronto, and only then because a video of him getting beat up on a sidewalk went viral and he needed a way to defend himself.

In 2010, he earned his bachelor’s degree in creative advertising, and the following year, he made his professional boxing debut.

Theodorou, who lacked a formal martial arts education, created a hybrid style that combined elements of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, wrestling, and boxing. Two of his coaches even described it as “awkwardly effective.”

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