Updated Jul 3, 2021 - Sports

AOC urges U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to end Sha'Carri Richardson's suspension

Picture of Sha'Carri Richarson

Sha'Carri Richardson. Photo: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) sent a letter to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency encouraging the group to rethink sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson's one-month suspension for recreational marijuana use.

What they're saying: "We urge you to reconsider the policies that led to this and other suspensions for recreational marijuana use, and to reconsider Ms. Richardson’s suspension. Please strike a blow for civil liberties and civil rights by reversing this course you are on," Ocasio-Cortez and Raskin said.

  • "The ban on marijuana is a significant and unnecessary burden on athletes’ civil liberties. [The World Anti-Doping Agency] categorizes tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active chemical in marijuana, as a prohibited competition substance. However, according to WADA’s own medical director, Alan Vernec, '[t]here is no evidence for cannabis use as a performance-enhancing drug.'"
  • "Sports leagues have also evolved in their regulation of marijuana use by athletes. In recent years, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, and the National Football League have all removed penalties for marijuana use."
  • "We are also concerned that the continued prohibition of marijuana while your organizations allow recreational use of alcohol and other drugs reflects anti-drug laws and policies that have historically targeted Black and Brown communities while largely condoning drug use in white communities."
"Their decision lacks any scientific basis. It's rooted solely in the systemic racism that's long driven anti-marijuana laws,"
— Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet

But, but, but: Asked about the decision on Saturday, Biden replied: "Rules are the rules," according to a White House pool report.

  • "And everyone knows what the rules were going in. Whether they should remain that way is a different issue. But the rules are rules, and I was really proud of the way she responded," he added. 

Catch up quick: Richardson was suspended by the USADA and disqualified from the Olympics' 100 meter race after testing positive for cannabis. The runner said she took the substance to cope with her biological mother's death, who passed just days before the Olympic trials.

  • WADA claims marijuana can enhance an athlete's performance because it "reduces anxiety, allowing athletes to better perform under pressure and to alleviate stress experienced before and during competition."

Editor's note: This story has been updated.


Want more stories like this? Sign up for Axios Tampa Bay

Go deeper