US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson suspended for a month after testing positive for marijuana, according to US anti-doping agency ad Friday morning.
The positive test result invalidates the Richardson test performance at the US Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., where she won the women’s 100-meter, and will bar the 21-year-old from competing in her flagship event at the Tokyo Olympics later this month. It is not known if she will be selected for the women’s 4×100 relay team.
Richardson apologized on NBC’s “Today” show Friday morning.
âI want to take responsibility for my actions,â she told NBC. “I know what I did. I know what I’m supposed to do. I know what I’m allowed not to do, and I made that decision anyway.”
Richardson said on the show that she ingested marijuana after an interview with a reporter in which the reporter informed her that her birth mother had died. She said it was a heavy emotional burden on her on the eve of her first Olympic trials, where she was seen as the overwhelming favorite, and it had left her in a state of “emotional panic”.
âIt was never a steroid. It will never be a steroid,â said Richardson.
Marijuana is legal in Oregon, where the Olympic trials were held, but is banned in competition under World Anti-Doping Agency rules. A positive drug test carries a minimum sentence of one month in suspension.
According to USADA, Richardson’s positive test result came from a sample taken during Olympic trials on June 19, when she ran a 10.86 in the final to qualify for her first Olympic appearance. The Dallas native has agreed to the terms of her interim suspension, which began on June 28.
âThe rules are clear, but it’s heartbreaking on many levels,â USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement. “I hope that her acceptance of responsibility and her apologies will be an important example to all of us that we can successfully overcome our regrettable decisions, despite the costly consequences of them for her.”
USA Track & Field called the situation “incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved”.
âThe health and well-being of athletes continues to be one of the USATF’s most critical priorities,â the organization said, âand we will work with Sha’Carri to ensure she has sufficient resources to overcome all current and future mental health issues. “
Known for her style on the track and fiery personality, Richardson had been seen as a serious contender to win gold in the women’s 100m in Tokyo. His season best time of 10.72 seconds is the second fastest time in the world this year.
Following Richardson’s positive test, Jenna Prandini, who finished fourth in the 100 in practice, will replace Richardson in the 100 meters in Tokyo. Javianne Oliver and Teahna Daniels, second and third respectively, are also part of the squad. Gabby Thomas is named as a replacement in the event.
A USATF spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday on the possibility that Richardson could still be selected as a member of the women’s 4×100 relay team for Tokyo.
While competitors in the individual events are automatically selected based on their performance at the Olympic trials, the USATF has the discretion to select the members of its relay teams. Competition in the women’s 4×100 begins August 5, after Richardson’s suspension ended.
Richardson said on the “Today” show that she would be grateful for the opportunity to compete on the relay team, but she also admitted that at age 21, she also planned to have many more appearances. Olympic Games in front of her. She will come back.
âI would just say, don’t judge me. Because I’m human,â Richardson said. “I am you, I happen to run a little faster.”
Contributor: Tom Schad