U.S. sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson will be prohibited from running the 100-meter race at the Olympics after a positive marijuana test.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said Richardson accepted a one-month suspension for violating an anti-doping rule.
“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,” USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said in a statement.
Richardson could potentially compete in the Olympic relays. It’s unclear whether U.S. Track and Field (USATF) will allow her to compete.
“Sha’Carri Richardson’s situation is incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved. Athlete health and well-being continue to be one of USATF’s most critical priorities and we will work with Sha’Carri to ensure she has ample resources to overcome any mental health challenges now and in the future,” USATF said in a statement.
Richardson appeared on “TODAY” and apologized, saying she wasn’t looking for empathy. She explained that the loss of her mother before the trials hurt and upset her.
“…Being in that position in my life, finding out something like that … something that I would say is probably one of the biggest things that have impacted me positively and negatively in my life when it comes to dealing with the relationship I had with my mother so that definitely was a very heavy topic on me and people don’t understand what it’s like to have to … or people do and we all have our different struggles and we all have our different things we deal with,” Richardson said. “But to put on a face and to have to go on in front of the world and put on a face and hide my pain … who am I to tell you how to cope when you’re dealing with a pain or you’re dealing with a struggle you never experienced before or that you never thought you would have to deal with. Who am I to tell you how to cope? Who am I to tell you that you’re wrong for hurting.
“Leading up to that, dealing with my mental health dealing with mental health leading up to the Games, every time stepping onto the track expecting to be a record-breaking time or something like that. Just with that pressure in itself was just a whole ‘nother thing which actually was the first full professional career, my first full professional circuit this year due to the pandemic.”
Richardson said she learned from a reporter that her mother had died. She said learning that sent her into a state of “emotional panic” but still wanted to go out and perform.
In the 100-meter on June 19, she put the world on notice. The 21-year-old clocked in with a wind-aided 10.64 time in the semifinal heat. She recorded a 10.86 time in the finals.
Richardson also revealed she was running with a heavy heart. After the 100-meter win, she went into the stands and celebrated with her grandmother and other family members. She revealed her biological mother had died last week.
“I’m still here. Last week, finding out my biological mother passed away and still choosing to pursue my dreams, still coming out here, still here to make the family that I do still have on this earth proud. And the fact [is] nobody knows what I go through. Everybody has struggles and I understand that, but y’all see me on this track and y’all see the poker face I put on, but nobody but them and my coach know what I go through on a day-to-day basis,” she said at the time, via ESPN.
“I’m highly grateful for them. Without them, there would be no me. Without my grandmother, there would be no Sha’Carri Richardson. My family is my everything, my everything until the day I’m done.”
Sha’Carri Richardson waves after winning the women’s 100-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Saturday, June 19, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
The Jamaica Gleaner and the Cincinnati Enquirer first reported that Richardson had tested positive for marijuana. A source told Reuters she tested positive at the competition and the positive test may invalidate her victory.
Richardson tweeted before the report dropped:
Recreational marijuana use is legal in Oregon, as it is in 16 other states and D.C. However, Richardson could face a four-year ban from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) considers marijuana to be prohibited in-competition with the only exception being cannabidiol.
The WADA rules state: “Subject to a different period having been approved by WADA for a given sport, the InCompetition period shall in principle be the period commencing just before midnight (at 11:59 p.m.) on the day before a Competition in which the Athlete is scheduled to participate until the end of the Competition and the Sample collection process.”
WADA considers cannabis as a “substance of abuse.” An athlete could face a four-year ban for violating the policy but if they can prove the use was out of competition and agree to a treatment program their ban could be reduced to 30 days.
Fox News’ Brie Stimson contributed to this report.