Superstar athletes have slammed the decision to ban American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson from contesting the 100m at the Tokyo Olympics because she used marijuana.
Richardson has accepted a one-month suspension after testing positive for cannabis, ruling her out of her pet event although she may yet be able to run in later relay events.
The 21-year-old’s positive test came at the US Olympic trials last month where Richardson established herself as a gold medal contender by winning the 100m in 10.86 seconds.
Richardson admitted it happened during the trials while she was dealing with the news of the death of her mother.
“Like I tweeted yesterday, I’m human. We are human, I want to be as transparent as possible with you guys whether it’s good, whether it’s bad,” she said.
“But when it comes to Sha’Carri Richardson there will never be a steroid attached to the name Sha’Carri Richardson. The charge and what the situation was marijuana.”
A 30-day ban backdated to the time of the adverse result could leave Richardson clear to race in the 4x100m relay at the Olympics in the first week of August, if she is selected.
“The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking on many levels; hopefully, her acceptance of responsibility and apology will be an important example to us all that we can successfully overcome our regrettable decisions, despite the costly consequences of this one to her,” said US Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart.
Michael Johnson – a former world and Olympic champion over 200m and 400m – led a chorus of athletes slamming the decision on social media.
“I don’t know why marijuana is banned. Maybe a good reason. Maybe not,” Johnson tweeted.
“I know how it feels to lose a parent. Indescribable pain! I’m from the same neighbourhood as (Richardson) Tough place! I wish people would stop calling her and this ban stupid unless you know the reason for both.”
Marijuana is legal in many US states, including Oregan where the US Olympic trials were held, and NBA great Dwyane Wade called out the potentially hypocritical officials.
“But majority of y’all rule makers smoke and probably are investors in THC companies,” Wade said.
“Let’s stop playing these games.”
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes tweeted:“This is so trash man… just let her run!”
NRL superstar Odell Beckham Jr. added: This is bulls*** tbh”.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki even weighed into the scandal.
“Sha’Carri Richardson is an inspiring young woman who has gone through a lot personally,” she said.
“And she also happens to be one of the fastest women in the world and that’s an important part of the story as well.”
After the London Olympics, international regulators relaxed the threshold for what constitutes a positive test for marijuana from 15 nanograms per millilitre to 150 ng/m.
They explained the new threshold was an attempt to ensure that in-competition use is detected and not use during the days and weeks before competition.
– with AAP