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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.

Go deeper

Jul 2, 2021 - Sports

Sha'Carri Richardson's weed suspension says a lot about mental health in sports

Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

America's best shot for Olympic gold in the women's 100 meters won't be competing, after testing positive for marijuana.

Driving the news: U.S. favorite sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson has been suspended after testing positive for marijuana that she said she used to cope with her biological mother's death, which had put her in "a state of emotional panic."

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Updated Jul 2, 2021 - Sports

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

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.

Updated 4 hours ago - Science

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — the world's largest tree by volume. Park officials wrapped the redwoods in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. Protection efforts appeared to be working overnight.