American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson’s Olympic dream was shattered by cannabis.
The 5-foot-1 track and field star rose to fame in 2019 as a freshman at Louisiana State University, where she completed 10.75 seconds in the 100-meter run to break the NCAA record.
On June 19, Richardson won the 100 meters at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, where the 21-year-old stopped the clock at 10.86 seconds to redeem her ticket to the Tokyo Olympics on July 23 to begin Exactly the same time it took to reach one of the first three podium places at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Richardson’s personal best of 10.72 seconds is the fastest time in the world this year.
But Richardson’s ambitions in Tokyo were halted on July 1 when it was revealed that she had tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component in cannabis, from a urine sample collected during team trials, as was first done by Jamaica Gleaner reported.
Since January 1st, 2021, cannabis has been classified as a “Substance of Abuse” by the World Anti-Doping Agency and is currently valid for a maximum of four years. However, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said in a July 2 statement that Richardson had accepted a one-month ban – as allowed under applicable international rules.
“The rules are clear, but it’s heartbreaking on many levels,” said Travis T. Tygart, USADA CEO. “Your acceptance of responsibility and your apology will hopefully be an important example for all of us that we can successfully master our regrettable decisions despite the costly consequences for them.”
According to USADA, the World Anti-Doping Code 2021 re-classifies THC as a substance of abuse due to its extensive use in society outside of sport. Should an athlete who tested positive for a substance of abuse find that the substance was used outside of competition and was unrelated to athletic performance, the athlete would receive a three-month sanction. However, if the athlete satisfactorily completes a USADA-approved drug treatment program, the penalty may be further reduced to one month.
NBC sports group
Sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson hugs her grandmother after her 100-meter win during the U.S. Athletics Tests in Athletics on June 19 in Eugene, Ore.
On the July 2 Today show, Richardson said she used cannabis after learning that her birth mother died shortly before the studies. As shown on NBC TV during the exams, she hugged her grandmother after winning the 100m final.
“My family grounded me. This year has been crazy for me since I lost my birth mother last week, and I’m still here, ”Richardson said in an interview shortly thereafter. “My birth mother died and [I’m] I still choose to make my dreams come true, I still come here and make the family I still have on this earth proud. “
While Richardson is disqualified from her victory at the US Trials and therefore forfeits her automatic qualification for Tokyo over 100 meters, her 30-day suspension ends on July 27th. That opens the door for her to potentially compete in the US Women’s Relay races, including the 4×100 Relay, which runs for May 5-6. August is planned.
Beyond the one-month sanction, athletes’ eligibility to participate in the Tokyo Games is determined by the US Olympic and Paralympic Committees and US track and field eligibility rules.
“Right now, I’m just putting all of my time and energy into doing what I need to do, which is healing myself,” Richardson said during her interview with the Today show. “Well, if I can get this blessing, I’ll be grateful for it, but if not, I’ll just focus on myself now.”
In a July 1 tweet, Richardson said, “I’m human.”
Richardson’s sponsor Nike released a public statement on July 2nd saying he would stand by her: “We appreciate and will continue to support Sha’Carri’s honesty and accountability during this time.”