Instead of cheering for U.S. track sensation Sha’Carri Richardson later this month during the Tokyo Olympics, Americans won’t be able to see the 21-year-old compete at all.
Richardson dusted the competition in the women’s 100-meter race at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon. However, following her qualifying race, Richardson tested positive for THC. According to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the positive test disqualified her from competing—despite zero evidence that marijuana enhances athletic ability. Plus, Richardson used cannabis in Oregon, a state where it’s legal.
“Richardson’s competitive results obtained on June 19, 2021, including her Olympic qualifying results at the Team Trials, have been disqualified, and she forfeits any medals, points, and prizes,” a statement from the USADA said.
Richardson was banned for 30 days, which means she’ll miss the 100-meter race in Tokyo. There was some hope that she would still run during the women’s 4×100-meter relay, but she wasn’t on the roster released by USA Track and Field (USATF).
“First and foremost, we are incredibly sympathetic toward Sha’Carri Richardson’s extenuating circumstances and strongly applaud her accountability — and will offer her our continued support both on and off the track,” a statement from officials at USATF said.
“While USATF fully agrees that the merit of the World Anti-Doping Agency rules related to THC should be reevaluated, it would be detrimental to the integrity of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track & Field if USATF amended its policies following competition, only weeks before the Olympic Games.
There has been widespread criticism of disqualifying Richardson, including a petition signed by more than half a million people to allow Richardson to compete.
Members of the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights & Civil Liberties sent a letter calling on officials to reverse the ban.
“We urge you to reconsider the policies that led to this and other suspensions for recreational marijuana use, and to reconsider Ms. Richardson’s suspension. Please strike a blow for civil liberties and civil rights by reversing this course you are on,” the letter read. “The divergent treatment of recreational alcohol and marijuana use reflects obsolete stereotypes about cannabis products and a profound misunderstanding of the relative risks of both substances.”