Jul 9, 2021 - Sports

USADA says marijuana rules can't be changed unilaterally

Sha'Carri Richardson

Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is working to mitigate the "harsh consequences" but can't unilaterally change the rules even if marijuana is not intentionally used to improve performance, USADA leaders wrote in a letter Friday.

The big picture: The letter was addressed to Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who wrote to USADA to encourage the group to rethink sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson's one-month suspension for recreational marijuana use.

What they're saying: Friday’s letter, co-signed by USADA CEO Travis Tygart, stated that because Richardson voluntarily accepted her 30-day suspension, any attempt to reverse it, “would have been quickly appealed” by the International Olympic Committee or World Anti-Doping Agency, which could have resulted in an even longer suspension.

  • “Most governments in the world have been very reluctant to take marijuana off the prohibited list for public health reasons,” the USADA letter reads.
  • “It is worth noting that when marijuana was included in the first prohibited list in 2004, one of the strongest advocates for inclusion of marijuana on the prohibited list was the U.S. government," the letter reads.

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

Go deeper