The World Reacts To Sha’Carri Richardson Tokyo Suspension

The story of Sha’Carri Richardson’s qualification for the Olympics at the US Olympic trials was one that captivated the world. With her flaming orange hair and incredible speed, Richardson seemed to quite literally tear up the track in her 100-metre event. Where athletes have in the past presented a person in keeping with their sponsorship deals and media personality, Richardson as every bit herself. Strong, confident, and only 21-years-old, it became clear that we were all witnessing the makings of sport’s next greatest star. 

Having won the race in 10.86 seconds, Richardson was the favourite to medal at Tokyo. But over the weekend, Richardson’s Olympic dreams were quashed when she tested positive for THC, the chemical in marijuana, at the trials. She has been handed a one-month suspension and will be banned from the Tokyo Olympics. 

Travis Tygart, chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said: “The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking on many levels; hopefully, her acceptance of responsibility and apology will be an important example to us all that we can successfully overcome our regrettable decisions, despite the costly consequences of this one to her.”

Addressing the ban in a Today Show interview, Richardson said: “I know what I did. I know what I’m supposed to do…I still made that decision.” She added, “I want to take responsibility for me actions. I’m not looking for an excuse.”

It’s a suspension that has divided the sporting world and left many baffled. Richardson tested positive in Oregon, where recreational cannabis use and possession are legal. Marijuana though, is still considered a banned substance by the World Anti-Doping Agency and USA Track and Field. Many have questioned just why marijuana is considered a performance-enhancing drug, but USADA makes it clear on its website that “all synthetic and naturally occurring cannabinoids are prohibited in-competition, except for cannabidiol (CBD),” a byproduct that is being explored for possible medical benefits.

Richardson revealed in an NBC interview that her biological mother had died the week before her race, and she only learned of the passing from a reporter – a moment she described as “shocking” and “triggering.” Richarson said, “I was just trying to hide my pain. I’m not making an excuse or looking for empathy in my case. However, being in that position in my life, finding out something like that…dealing with the relationship I have with my mother, that definitely was a very heavy topic on me.”

Those in the sporting world have been quick to defend Richardson. Richard Sherman, a Super Bowl champion cornerback with Seattle, voiced his support and questioned why society would punish Richarson for coping with personal loss. “I’m very proud of this young woman but so frustrated at the place we are as a society,” he said. “She is dealing with one of the greatest personal losses anyone could ever have to deal with in the midst of trying to accomplish one of the most difficult feats. Now we make her explain.”

NBA star Dwayne Wade also addressed the legality of marijuana. “Majority of y’all rule makers smoke and probably are investors in THC companies,” Wade said. “Let’s stop playing these games.”

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