Sha’Carri Richardson suspended from Olympics after testing positive for cannabis
She was disqualified from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, issue a month-long ban and had her last win invalidated
US sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson has been disqualified from the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics after she tested positive for having cannabis in her system. The games are just a few weeks away, with the ban meaning she cannot run in her event: the 100-meter sprint.
Richardson was seen as the U.S.'s best contender for a gold medal in the event, having won her previous race at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials in Eugene, Oregon last month. As mentioned, this victory has now been invalidated. She gave a candid interview to NBC's Today Show, stating her reasons:
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 2, 2021
As you can see, Richardson explains her reasons for having used THC - the psychoactive substance in cannabis - the primary reason being that she had recently come out of counselling following the death of her mother.
She goes on to say: "I was trying to hide my pain" and urges other people not to judge her", adding, "I'm you. I just happen to run a little faster." Shortly after the announcement was made, she had this simple statement to make on Twitter.
I am human
— Sha’Carri Richardson (@itskerrii) July 1, 2021
It is worth reminding that weed is now legal in 19 different states in America and, as Richardson cited, is in no way linked to her performance. Marijuana is categorically not a performance-enhancing drug but is, obviously, banned in athletics outside of Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).
Drug-doping scandals have played havoc in the background of recent Olympics, especially in Russia, who were themselves banned from this year's games and next year's World Cup. While Richardson expressed her disappointment and acceptance at the situation, she reiterated she will never be involved in doping:
“It's never been a steroid. It will never be a steroid attached to the name Sha'Carri Richardson. The charge and what the situation was is marijuana.”
There is a possibility that Richardson could still be able to compete in the 400-meter relay, which takes place after her suspension ends, but the USA Track & Field (USATF) governing body is yet to confirm this.
USATF said Richardson's suspension was "incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved", added that they will ensure she has "ample resources to overcome any mental health challenges now and in the future."
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) had this to say in their own statement on the decision:
“The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking on many levels; hopefully, her acceptance of responsibility and apology will be an important example to us all that we can successfully overcome our regrettable decisions, despite the costly consequences of this one to her.”