American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson spoke out about the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS’s) controversial decision to let Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva continue competing in the Beijing Olympics despite a positive test for a banned substance.
Valieva, who recently became the first woman to land a quadruple jump on Olympic ice, tested positive for trimetazidine in December, but the CAS cited her status as a minor as one reason that she should not be immediately suspended, per People. Valieva is 15 years old.
Back in 2021, Sha’Carri Richardson secured her spot on the U.S. team during the 100-meter final at the U.S. Olympic Trials and was heavily favored in track-and-field events going into the Tokyo Summer Olympics but was suspended and had her qualifying times invalidated after testing positive for a chemical found in marijuana. At the time, the 21-year-old explained that she had used marijuana after the sudden death of her biological mother. Many also noted that while the drug is a banned substance as far as the Olympics are concerned, pot use is legal in the state of Oregon, where Richardson was at the time. You can read more about her situation here.
Richardson took to Twitter on February 14 to question the difference between Valieva’s controversy and her own. “Can we get a solid answer on the difference of her situation and mines? My mother died and I can’t run and was also favored to place top 3. The only difference I see is I’m a black young lady,” she wrote in response to the CAS’s decision, adding, “It’s all in the skin.”
She also reacted to the timelines in play, noting that while Valieva’s case played out over the course of months, for Richardson, the consequences were immediate.
Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, also released a statement expressing “disappointment” over the decision. “It is the collective responsibility of the entire Olympic community to protect the integrity of sports and to hold our athletes, coaches, and all involved to the highest of standards,” Hirshland wrote.
The medal ceremony for the Russian figure skating team (Valieva contributed to their victory) has been delayed, while Valieva’s short program will take place on February 15.