Updated Jul 2, 2021 - Sports

Sha'Carri Richardson tests positive for marijuana, will miss 100-meter race

Picture of Sha'Carri Richardson
Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson, who was poised to be one of the faces of Team USA in Tokyo, will be unable to compete in the 100-meter race at the Olympics after testing positive for marijuana and accepting a one-month suspension, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced Friday.

Why it matters: The Texan, who is the second-fastest woman in the 100 meters this year (10.72 seconds), was aiming to become the first American woman to win a gold in the event since Gail Devers in 1999.

  • Richardson could return in time to race in the women's 4x100-meter relay in Tokyo on Aug. 6, since her suspension ends July 27. The decision would be up to USA Track & Field, which has not disclosed its plans for the relay.
  • Richardson, 21, won the 100 meters at the U.S. track and field trials two weeks ago, but her positive test invalidates her result.

What they're saying: "I know what I did, I know what I'm supposed to do, what I'm allowed not to do, and I still made that decision," Richardson said in an interview with NBC's "Today Show" Friday morning.

  • Richardson said she had been dealing with her mother's death, as well as the pressure of participating in the trials, which led her to a state of "emotional panic."
  • "Don't judge me, because I am human. ... I just happen to run a little faster," she added.
  • “The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking on many levels," said USADA CEO Travis Tygart.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki called Richardson an “inspiring woman” during a press conference Friday, though the White House did not call on the USADA to reverse its suspension.

  • "This was an independent decision made by the U. S. Anti-Doping Agency and not a decision that would be made by the U.S. government, as is appropriate, and we will certainly leave them the space and room to make their decisions about anti-doping policies that need to be implemented," Psaki said.

Of note: Adult recreational use of marijuana is legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia. That includes Oregon, which is where Richardson tested positive.

  • The four major U.S. sports leagues have softened their stances in recent years, reducing restrictions and punishments.
  • The World Anti-Doping Agency classifies cannabis as a "substance of abuse," and it currently carries a four-year ban — unless an athlete can prove their ingestion of the substance was unrelated to sports performance.

Go deeper: Major sports leagues are easing up on marijuana

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Sha'Carri Richardson would have possibly run in the 4x100-meter relay, not the 4x400-meter relay as previously stated.

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