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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

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 9, 2021 - Energy & Environment

House progressives lay down their infrastructure marker

Rep. Cori Bush Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez demand that U.S. President Joe Biden work to make the Green New Deal into law during a protest outside the White House in June.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is hearing from her left flank about climate spending they want in the Democratic reconciliation package.

Driving the news: 11 progressive House Democrats led by Rep. Cori Bush, in a new letter first obtained by CBS, call for various provisions, including "$250 billion in climate and environmental justice funding for local governments" and $1 trillion to "build public renewables with union labor."

Kate Marino, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Omicron outbreaks were bad for business in January

Data: New York Federal Reserve Bank; Chart: Axios Visuals

Emerging anecdotal evidence shows just how hard the recent rise in COVID-19 cases hit businesses in early January — but that hasn't hurt some business leaders’ longer-term views on their companies' prospects.

Why it matters: Increasingly, the economic recovery has come in fits and starts that move in tandem with new peaks in cases. Look no further than the thousands of cancelled flights and shuttered Broadway theaters in the wake of the Omicron variant's spread over the last few months.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

The shifting definition of fully vaccinated

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The definition of what it means to be "fully vaccinated" is evolving even as the CDC has remained careful not to officially change it.

Why it matters: CDC officials have been balancing the job of convincing Americans who've already gotten two doses of the importance of boosters with getting many Americans who still need their first doses to get their shots at all.