Thursday 2nd December, 2021
Olympic hopeful Sha'Carri Richardson has been left out of the 4X100 meter relay team and will not compete in the Games after her 30-day suspension for a positive cannabis test.
Sha'Carri Richardson, the Olympic hopeful suspended from competition last week for 30 days after testing positive for cannabis, has been left out of the 4X100 meter relay, preventing her from competing in the Games.
In a statement released on Tuesday announcing the change, USA Track & Field (USATF) said it "strongly agrees that the merits of the World Anti-Doping Agency's rules relating to THC should be re-evaluated" but "would be detrimental to the integrity of the US Evidence of the Olympic team for athletics if the USATF changes its policies after the competition, just weeks before the Olympic Games".
"All USATF athletes are equally aware of and must adhere to the current anti-doping code, and our credibility as a National Governing Body would be lost if the rules were applied only under certain circumstances. So while our deepest understanding lies in Sha'Carri, we must also uphold fairness to all athletes who have tried to fulfill their dreams by securing a spot on the United States Olympic athletics team." - pronounced USATF in a statement.
Richardson accepted the one-month suspension, but there was still a chance she would compete in the August 6 relay, which dropped out of the 30-day suspension. Richardson, 21, won the women’s 100 meter final in 10.86 seconds at U.S. Olympic Trials in Oregon last month.
A few days before the trials, Richardson learned about her mother's death during an interview with a reporter, an event she called "triggering" and "nerve-shocking." She later ingested marijuana while in Oregon. said she used cannabis to deal with the "emotional panic" after her mother's death.
“I was definitely triggered and blinded by emotions, blinded by badness, and hurting, and hiding hurt,” she said on NBC’s “Today” show. “I know I can’t hide myself, so in some type of way, I was trying to hide my pain.”
"I'm sorry I can't be y'all Olympic Champ this year but I promise I'll be your World Champ next year," Richardson tweeted Saturday.
President Joe Biden (D) said he was "very proud of the way she responded" to the setback but said that ultimately the "rules are the rules".
"Everyone knows what the rules are", Biden told reporters last week in Michigan, according to a USA Today report. "Whether they should remain that way, whether that should remain the rule, is a different question. Rules are rules."
Marijuana is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the USADA in competition period. The threshold for an athlete to have THC in their system in competition without it causing a positive test is 150 nanograms per milliliter.
According to WADA: “Athletes who smoke cannabis or Spice in-competition potentially endanger themselves and others because of increased risk taking, slower reaction times and poor executive function or decision making."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) said the decision to suspend Richardson "lacks any scientific basis."
"It's rooted solely in the systemic racism that has long driven anti-marijuana laws," she tweeted last week.
The USATF said the organization is "incredibly sympathetic to Sha'Carri Richardson's mitigating circumstances and strongly applauds her responsibility and will offer its ongoing support".
Richardson's use also occurred out of competition and was unrelated to sports performance. She also already successfully completed a counseling program regarding her cannabis use.
Richardson was looking to become the United States' first gold medalist in the 100 meters since 1996. She burst onto the scene winning the 2019 NCAA title in a collegiate record of 10.75 seconds. She lowered that personal best to 10.72 in April for the sixth-fastest wind-legal time ever.