The Sha’Carri Richardson Marijuana Situation, Explained

Track star Sha’Carri Richardson quickly won over a legion of fans last month when she sprinted into first place at the 100-meter competition, securing herself a spot at the Tokyo Olympic Games. The 21-year-old runner’s performance made her an early darling of the upcoming Games; her incredible speed (10.86 seconds!) even earned her the moniker of the Fastest Woman in America. After qualifying, she ran straight into her grandmother’s arms.

Just a couple weeks later, though, her Olympic future isn’t so certain. On the morning of Friday, July 2, the United States Anti-Doping Agency announced that Richardson had tested positive for a chemical found in marijuana, and as a result, her results at the trials in Oregon are invalid. The New York Times reports Richardson accepted a one-month suspension from the sport that began on June 28, which means it’s still possible for her to participate in the relay event, which will take place later in the Games, on July 30. In individual events the top three finishers from each country compete; with her race invalidated, Richardson is out. But the relay team is composed of both the top finishers and other runners selected at the discretion of the country’s governing Track & Field body. U.S.A. Track & Field has not yet come to a decision as to whether or not Richardson will get a spot on the team.

In an interview with Today, Richardson explained she used marijuana to cope with the sudden death of her biological mother, which she found out about from a reporter while she was in Oregon for the trials. Hearing the news was “definitely nerve-shocking,” she said. 

The day before the suspension was announced, Sha’Carri Richardson tweeted, “I am human.”

Richardson’s sponsor Nike has yet to respond to the news.

We will update this post when more information becomes available.

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