Sha’Carri dreams muffled by idiocy
By Michael Kinney
There was no bigger name coming out of last month’s U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials than Sha’Carri Richardson. The Dallas native and LSU alum had been known for fashion style and fiery personality, but what she did during the trials showed she was more substance than flair.
Richardson not only won the 100-meter dash, but her qualifying time of 10.86 seconds also shattered the U.S. Olympic trials record. At the tender age of 21 Richardson had earned a spot on the US Olympic team and was set to head to Tokyo as one of the faces of the entire United States contingent.
Then it all fell apart.
On July 1 unsubstantiated reports emerged that Richardson had tested positive for a banned substance and could miss the Tokyo Olympics (July 23-Aug. 8). At the outset, most believed it was some type of steroid or performance-enhancing drug, which have cast a large shadow over previous Olympic games.
Richardson tweeted out a cryptic “I am human” early that morning, which only added to the speculation.
By the next day the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency confirmed that it wasn’t steroids, but THC that was found in Richardson’s system during testing at the Olympic Trials, which were held in Oregon.
Because Cannabis is still on the banned substance list, Richardson accepted a 30-day suspension, which will keep her from running in the 100-meter dash at the Tokyo Olympics. It also wiped away her record time in the event.
Richardson spoke live on “Good Morning America” July 2 and said she had smoked marijuana after finding out from a reporter about the recent death of her biological mother.
“I was definitely triggered and blinded by emotions, blinded by badness, and hurting, and hiding hurt,” Richardson said. “I know I can’t hide myself, so in some type of way, I was trying to hide my pain. I apologize for the fact that I didn’t know how to control my emotions, or deal with my emotions, during that time.”
Even though international regulators had already relaxed what constitutes a positive test for marijuana from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150 ng/m, enough was found in Richardson’s system to show she had used it during the Olympic Trials.
According to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency all synthetic and naturally occurring cannabinoids are prohibited in competition, except for cannabidiol (CBD).
I know what I did, I know what I’m supposed to do, what I’m allowed not to do,” Richardson said. “And I still made that decision.”
Regardless, public support has defiantly been on Richardson’s side. Her supporters spanned the entire spectrum of celebrities, athletes and political figures and they all are blaming the system for still looking at cannabis as illegal.
“The criminalization and banning of cannabis is an instrument of racist and colonial policy,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y) said. “The IOC should reconsider its suspension of Ms. Richardson and any athletes penalized for cannabis use.”
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes posted on his Twitter account “This is so trash man… just let her run!”
NIKE, which is a major sponsor of Richardson, also has stood by her side.
“Sha’Carri Richardson’s situation is incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved. Athlete health and well-being continue to be one of USATF’s most critical priorities and we will work with Sha’Carri to ensure she has ample resources to overcome any mental health challenges now and in the future,” a statement read.
The loss of Richardson to Team U.S.A and the Tokyo Olympics, in general, will be huge. But the light she has put on the Cannabis industry maybe even bigger.
The support she has received from every walk of life shows that the stigma that use to be attached to marijuana is dissipating. People are no longer afraid to publicly support someone who uses it for recreation, medical or personal reasons.
Richardson still has a chance to still make it to the Olympics as part of Team USA 4×100 relay team. The event will take place after her suspension is over.
“Right now, I’m just putting all of my energy into dealing with what I need to deal with to heal myself,” Richardson said. “If I’m allowed to receive that blessing, then I’m grateful for it, but if not, right now I’m just going to focus on myself.”