After American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson tested positive for cannabis use, it looks as though she won’t be running in any races at the Tokyo Olympics. The United States Anti-Doping Agency announced last Friday morning that she would no longer be permitted to compete in the 100-meter race due to her cannabis use.
Richardson admitted in an interview with NBC that she had been recently using cannabis as a way to cope with the death of her biological mother. She grew up with her grandmother and was in Oregon training at the Olympic trials when she heard of the unexpected death from a reporter during one of her interviews.
“It sent me into a state of emotional panic,” she said after the interview. “I didn’t know how to control my emotions or deal with my emotions during that time.”
It came as a shock to many family and friends since Richardson had just won the 100-meter race at the US Track and Field Trials last month and were looking forward to seeing her compete at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I greatly apologize if I let you guys down, and I did,” she said, directed at friends, family, and sponsors.
Richardson has accepted a one-month suspension starting June 28, which means she will be cleared just before the Olympic Games officially start on July 30. However, she is still not allowed to compete because her results from the women’s 100 Olympic trials have been erased due to her suspension. USA Track and Field procedures are strict when it comes to who qualifies for an event. They rule that the top three finishers, in any event, are qualified for the Olympics as long as they reach Olympics performance.
USA Track and Field has already notified fourth place runner Jenna Prandini, who will now take Richardson’s spot in the 100-meter race. Gabby Thomas, who placed fifth at the trials was also contacted as she is now the runner-up for Prandini.
They said in a statement on Twitter that Richardson’s situation is “incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved,” and will “work with Sha’Carri to ensure she has ample resources to overcome any mental health challenges now and in the future.” There was no mention of her status regarding competing in the Tokyo race.
Cannabis is on the list of prohibited substances for the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which means they believe it could either pose a potential health risk, enhance performance, or violate the spirit of the sport. In a press release, they stated her cannabis use was not performance-related, which means she falls under the other two criteria.
From Richardson’s point of view, she wants to remind people that she is just like everybody else. She is a speedy 21-year-old, with bright orange-colored hair and long fashionable nails, but she is also a human being.
She simply tweeted, “I am human,” and further added on NBC, “I just say, don’t judge me and I am human — I’m you, I just happen to run a little faster.” She also explained that people criticizing her cannabis use are expected, “They don’t necessarily understand, and I wouldn’t even call them haters.”
Although Sha’Carri is no longer qualified for the individual race, Richardson may still be able to compete in the 4×100 meter relay, USA Track and Field has yet to announce an update.