Every four years, athletes from all around the country train in hopes of securing a spot to represent Team USA in the Olympics. Although the start of the Tokyo Olympic Games are quickly approaching, Sha’Carri Richardson, an American track and field sprinter who competes in both the 100-meter and 200-meter races, was not on the Olympic roster released on Tuesday by USA Track and Field. Richardson was expected to compete, however her positive test for marijuana has cost her the chance of running on the relay team and in the 100-meter individual race.
All athletes who intend to compete in the Olympic Games are required to take a drug test before qualifying and competing in the Olympics. Unfortunately for Richardson, she tested positive for marijuana.
In an interview with NBC on Friday, Richardson blamed the positive test on her use of marijuana as a way to cope with the unexpected death of her biological mother while she was in Oregon for the Olympic trials.
Outrage quickly erupted across all social media platforms regarding Richardson’s inability to compete. In addition, many were frustrated that she was being punished simply because of the fact that marijuana is legal in the state Richardson tested positive in.
Many also argued that marijuana is not a performance enhancing drug. The USADA fought back with a statement saying, “based on current animal and human studies as well as on interviews with athletes and information from the field, cannabis can be performance enhancing for some athletes and sports disciplines.”
According to the USADA, marijuana is a prohibited substance not only because it can enhance performance, but also because it poses as a health risk to athletes and its use violates the spirit of the sport. In addition, the USADA argues that, “athletes who smoke cannabis or spice in-competition potentially endanger themselves and others because of increased risk taking, slower reaction times and poor executive function or decision making.”
Although Richardson is cleared in time to run the 4×100 meter relay, she was not on the roster and therefore will not be competing in the Olympic Games.
In a statement released, USATF said it was “incredibly sympathetic toward Sha’Carri Richardson’s extenuating circumstances” and “fully agrees” that international rules regarding marijuana should be reevaluated.
The statement also read, “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.”
Richardson was expected to challenge for Olympic Gold.
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