American sprinting champion Sha’Carri Richardson has apologized for a positive marijuana test. The rest results will prevent her from running her signature event at the Tokyo Olympics, reports The Washington Post.
She was seen as the United States’ best contender for gold in the 100 meter race at the games.
Richardson said in a “Today” show interview that she used Cannabis at the U.S. Olympic trials to cope with the discovery that her biological mother had died. She also cited the pressure to meet expectations.
“Don’t judge me, because I am human,” Richardson said in an interview with NBC’s Today show. “I’m you. I just happen to run a little faster.”
The 21-year-old accepted the month-long period of ineligibility for the failed drug test beginning on June 28, according to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
“The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking on many levels,” said USADA CEO Travis Tygar.
Richardson Accepts One-Month Suspension
Richardson remained hopeful she could race in the 4×100 relay but acknowledged she will miss the 100 meters, the race that vaulted her to instant stardom at the trials.
The athlete emphasized she has never used performance-enhancing drugs. She also expressed confidence she will make a comeback in future Olympics and accepted fault.
Shortly after her interview, the United States Anti-Doping Agency announced that Richardson had accepted a one-month suspension.
The positive test occurred after Richardson won the 100 at U.S. Olympic Trials on June 19.
She has been retroactively disqualified from trials. Her place in the event in Tokyo now belongs to the fourth-place finisher, Jenna Prandini. Gabby Thomas, who finished fifth, will become the alternate.
Richardson’s suspension began June 28. USA Track & Field could still name her to a relay team, reports Yahoo News.
‘Dealing With My Mental Health’
Richardson on Friday morning confirmed that she ingested Cannabis just days before Olympic trials. She said she had just learned of her mother’s death from a reporter, “a complete stranger.”
Richardson said that experience was “definitely triggering” and “nerve-shocking.” She added that it sent her into “a state of emotional panic.”
She did not say specifically that that is why she used marijuana. Richardson did, however, speak about “dealing with my mental health.”
She also mentioned having to “put on a face” with cameras on her. After all, it was the biggest moment of her track career.
On Thursday, after learning of the positive test, she tweeted: “I am human.”
“I’m not looking for an excuse,” she later said.
MPP: ‘An Absurd Act of Injustice’
“Banning Sha’Carri Richardson from the Olympic 100-meter race is an absurd act of injustice,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “It should outrage every American who believes in common sense, compassion, and fairness.
“Personal use of cannabis should never stop an athlete from representing the United States of America and pursuing their dreams,” Schweich said.
“The fact that Sha’Carri Richardson used cannabis as a means to cope with the tragic loss of her mother makes this punishment even more heartless.
“Like millions of other Americans, Sha’Carri Richardson is an adult who used cannabis in a state where it is legal,” Schweich said.
“We’re certain that an overwhelming majority of Americans disagree with Sha’Carri Richardson’s punishment,” he said.
NORML: ‘Let Richardson Race’
“In the past, it has never made too much sense for marijuana use outside of competition to be a disqualifying factor for athletes,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri.
“In 2021 … it makes exactly zero sense for regulators to continue to take punitive actions against athletes like Sha’Carri Richardson or anyone else who chooses to consume cannabis in their off-hours.”
“Sha’Carri Richardson, like millions of her fellow Americans, turned to cannabis’ therapeutic benefits to help her cope with the tragic loss of her mother,” Altieri said.
“Let Richardson race.”
“It is highly unlikely that top-level athletes are consuming cannabis prior to taking part in athletic competitions,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano.
“Unfortunately, conventional drug screening can only identify the presence of past marijuana use,” Armentano added.