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EUGENE, OREGON – JUNE 19: Sha’Carri Richardson looks on after winning the Women’s 100 Meter final on day 2 of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 19, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo : Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Things are going from bad to worse for banned sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson as she was not included on the Olympic roster released by USA Track and Field (USATF) on Tuesday. It was a huge blow for Richardson whose dream to participate in the Tokyo Olympics is now officially over.
Richardson was projected to be one of the United States’ gold medal hopefuls in the upcoming Tokyo Games after her stunning performance at the Olympic Trials. She won the 100-meter race in 10.86 seconds but her victory was nullified just days later after Richardson tested positive for a chemical found in marijuana.
Richardson not included in relay roster
Richardson admitted the charge, saying the stress of her biological mother’s recent death as well as the pressure of preparing for the Olympic trials led her to use the drug. She was handed a 30-day suspension as a result, ruling the 21-year-old out of the marquee race in Tokyo. That month-long ban, however, will end on July 27, a week before the start of the relay events on August 5, which left open the possibility of Richardson winning an Olympic medal as part of the 4×100 relay team.
Despite the public outcry, the USATF chose not to offer a spot to Richardson, leaving her out completely from the 130-person roster for the Tokyo Olympics. USATF said in a statement that while it “fully agrees” that international rules regarding marijuana 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,” because of Richardson’s case.
USATF ended its statement, saying “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 on the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team.”
English Gardner and Aleia Hobbs benefited with this decision as they were offered the remaining relay spots as the sixth and seventh-place finishers in the 100-meter trials.
Debate on marijuana use rages on
Richardson’s disqualification has reignited the debate regarding marijuana use by athletes. While professional leagues such as the NFL, NHL and NBA, have greatly reduced their enforcement of marijuana rules, the Olympic ruling bodies continue to test for and punish marijuana use in some circumstances.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, for that matter, still include marijuana in the banned list of drugs that can pose health risks to athletes or violate the “spirit of sport.”
Many athletes voiced their support for Richardson including NBA stars Dwyane Wade and Damian Lillard, soccer stars Megan Rapinoe and Sydney Leroux, and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Even Joe Biden, the president of the United States, chimed in on the issue, saying that that while he was proud of the way Richardson handled her 30-day ban, “the rules are the rules. Biden added that “Whether they should remain the rules is a different issue, but the rules are the rules,”
Richardson’s Olympic dreams may be done this year but they are surely far from over. She told NBC’s Today that “This is just one Games. I’m 21, I’m very young. I have plenty of Games left in me to compete in and I have plenty of talent that backs me up, because everything I do comes from me naturally.”
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