Following her positive test for marijuana last month, Sha’Carri Richardson was suspended from competition in the 100-meter dash for one month by the sport’s governing body, U.S.A. Track & Field. While there was some hope that the fan-favorite who clocked the sixth-fastest-ever sprint would be allowed to run the 4x100m relay in the Olympics this month, coaches for USATF made the announcement Tuesday that Richardson was not selected, and will not be heading to Tokyo at all.
In June, Richardson, 21, was competing in the Olympic trials in Oregon, where marijuana is legal for recreational use. Days before she ran a 10.86-second race that qualified her for the U.S. delegation, a reporter told her that her biological mother had died. “I was just thinking it would be a normal interview,” Richardson said on the Today show. “But to hear that information coming from a complete stranger, it was definitely triggering, it was definitely nerve-shocking.” She added that she used marijuana to cope with the grief: “In some type of way, I was trying to hide my pain.”
After testing positive for THC, Richardson was disqualified and was hit with a 30-day suspension, which would have allowed her to join the 4×100-meter relay on August 6 — a race for which U.S.A. Track & Field can choose at least two runners whether or not they qualified at the Olympic trials. But coaches decided that it would not be fair to take away a place on the team from the other six relay runners chosen, according to the New York Times.
Richardson’s clear star power, incredible speed, and marijuana use in a legalized state drew a surplus of attention toward her suspension. On July 3, President Joe Biden — who does not support federal legalization — said that he was “really proud of the way” that Richardson handled her suspension. But “the rules are the rules,” he added. “Whether they should remain the rules is a different issue, but the rules are the rules.” The same day, representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamie Raskin wrote a letter to the U.S. and international anti-doping agencies requesting a review to overturn the decision. “Please strike a blow for civil liberties and civil rights by reversing this course you are on,” the progressives wrote.
The USATF explained Tuesday that while it 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.” Richardson has not yet released a statement, while her agent stated Tuesday that they “haven’t spoken about it at all.” Richardson’s most recent public comment on the matter came on the Fourth of July, when she tweeted: “All these perfect people that know how to live life, I’m glad I’m not one of them!”