Lesbian track phenom, fastest American woman Sha'Carri Richardson ruled out for Tokyo Olympics
Tue. July 6, 2021 8:05 PM by Gerald Farinas
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USA Track and Field said they won't make an exception to marijuana rules
Last week, Richardson's positive test for cannabis meant she had to lose her chance at competing in the women's 100 meters in Tokyo. After signals that USA Track and Field could consider her test results as deriving from "extenuating circumstances," Olympics-watchers were hoping her suspension would be reduced and Richardson could compete for a spot on the 4x100 relay team.
Richardson admitted to consuming cannabis in Oregon, a U.S. state where recreational use is legal. She used cannabis to cope with news that her biological mother had died.
"All [USA Track and Field] athletes are equally aware of and must adhere to the current antidoping code, and our credibility as the national governing body would be lost if rules were only enforced under certain circumstances,” the association said. "So while our heartfelt understanding lies with Sha'Carri, we must also maintain fairness for all of the athletes who attempted to realize their dreams by securing a place [track and field team]."
Richardson's advocates say there are several reasons why the decision is problematic, apart from legal recreational use in Oregon. Cannabis is not a performance enhancing substance like artificial testosterone or other steroids, for example. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez points to racism as a factor.
Some defenders have been comparing Richardson's treatment to that of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, also a known cannabis user. Phelps was suspended for three months after being photographed consuming cannabis. However, he has never tested positive before or during Olympic trials nor Olympic competition.
Despite her defenders, Richardson has accepted the decision and is reportedly looking forward to competing next year for other national and international titles. She is still considered a possible contender for the Paris Olympics in 2024 and Los Angeles Olympics in 2028.