Sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, who set a world record in the women’s 100m last month at the U.S. Olympic trials, has effectively lost her ability to compete in all individual races in Tokyo after testing positive for cannabis. She now waits to see whether she’ll be able to compete at all.
Speaking to the TODAY Show Friday, Richardson explained that she has accepted a one month ban from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which will rule her out from competing in any individual race. However, the timing could potentially allow her to return and compete on the 4x100m relay team, provided she’s allowed to resume competition. The final decision on her Olympic eligibility will be decided by the United States Olympian and Paralympian Committee and USA Track and Field.
Richardson explained that she learned of her mother’s death shortly before the Olympic trials in Oregon, hearing the news from a reporter, rather than privately. She detailed how the incident was triggering for her, prompting extreme anxiety. It was at this time she decided to ingest the marijuana, which she has now tested positive for. It should be noted that cannabis is legal in Oregon, where the trials took place. It’s also legal in 18 other states.
Richardson took full responsibility for her positive test, saying:
“I know what I did and what I’m not supposed to do. I know what I’m not allowed to do and I still made that decision.”
Now it falls on officials to decide her fate. Despite testing positive for a banned substance, there is no evidence marijuana would be performance enhancing, in fact, if anything it would have the opposite effect. Still, a statement issued by USATF Friday said the incident “is incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved,” adding the organization wanted to provide emotional and mental health support to the runner, but failed to elaborate on any potential steps the organization would be taking.
Richardson represented the United States’ greatest chances at gold in Tokyo in sprinting after setting the world record at the trials. He spot on the team will be filled by Jenna Prandini, who finished fourth at the trials last month.
Here’s a clip with Richardson from her interview with the TODAY Show.
Yes, Richardson broke the rules — but the circumstances behind using a legal drug in a state, one that’s decidedly not performance enhancing, and getting banned from the Olympics as a result is ridiculous and needs to be reformed.