Outdoor Athletics

‘I’m human’: Athletics star Sha’Carri Richardson tested positive for marijuana

American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, who was due to have a blazing career at the Tokyo Olympics this month, could miss her participation in the Games after testing positive for marijuana.

Richardson, 21, won the 100-meter race at the US track and field events in Oregon last month, but positive doping automatically invalidated his result in that outstanding competition.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released the positive result Friday morning and said Richardson had agreed to the one-month suspension, effective June 28. That could give him time to race in the 4×100 relay race that takes place well into the Games, if the US team selects it.

In an interview with NBC on Friday, Richardson blamed the positive test on his marijuana use as a way to overcome the unexpected death of his biological mother when he was in Oregon for Olympic qualifiers. Richardson, who was raised by her grandmother, said she learned of the death when a journalist was interviewing her, something she called triggering and “definitely stressful.”

“It brought me into a state of emotional panic,” he said, adding, “I didn’t know how to control my emotions or manage my emotions at the time.”

The athlete apologized to her supporters, her family and her sponsors, saying: “I apologize greatly if I have disappointed you, and I did.”

USA Track & Field (USATF), the governing body for athletics in the United States, has notified other women who competed in the 100-meter final of doping , according to two people with direct knowledge of the information, and several runners were informed that they climbed one position in the final ranking.

Jenna Prandini, who finished fourth in the tests, was notified that she will now be one of three American women to run the 100 meters in Tokyo, and Gabby Thomas, who finished fifth in the tests, was named as a substitute for the race, they said. people aware of the situation.

Richardson will be a candidate to return to competition just before the start of track and field events at the Games on July 30. The schedule for that day includes the first qualifying rounds of the women’s 100 meters, an event in which she will not participate now.

On Thursday afternoon, Richardson mysteriously tweeted: “I am human.” And on Friday on NBC he talked more about that idea.

“I’m just saying, don’t judge me, I’m human: I’m you, I just run a little bit faster,” she said, adding that she hopes some people will criticize her marijuana use. “They don’t necessarily understand and I wouldn’t say they’re haters .”

Although Richardson’s suspension will end by the time the Olympic track and field competition begins, the positive test nullifies her performance in the women’s 100-meter Olympic events, meaning she will not participate in the competition. Unlike selection processes in other countries, the procedures of the US governing body leave no discretionary room for rating. They dictate that the top three places in any qualifying event qualify for the Olympics, provided their performance meets the Olympic standard.

Richardson may be able to compete in the 4×100 relays even if he is taken out of the individual race. That decision is up to the USATF.

Up to six athletes are selected for the national relay team and four of them must be in the top three places in the 100 meters in the Olympic events. The governing body selects the remaining two team members.

In a statement , the USATF said Richardson’s situation was “incredibly unfortunate,” but did not indicate whether or how he would compete in the Olympics.

Renaldo Nehemiah, Richardson’s representative, did not respond to a call or text message Thursday.

Marijuana is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances . Both USADA and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee are signatories to the WADA code, which means they abide by its rules.

“Although we are very disappointed, the USOPC [United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee] has a strong commitment to fair competition and supports the anti-doping code,” the organization said in a statement Friday morning. “A positive test for any of the prohibited substances has consequences and we are working with the USATF to determine the next appropriate steps. We are focused on providing Sha’Carri with the support services she needs in this difficult time. “

Marijuana is prohibited only during competition periods, which are defined as starting at 11:59 pm on the day before the competition and until the end of the competition. Athletes can have up to 150 nanograms per milliliter of THC, the main psychoactive substance in marijuana, without causing a positive result.

According to the USADA , marijuana is a prohibited substance because it can improve performance, poses a risk to the health of athletes, and goes against the spirit of sport.

“The rules are clear, but this is painful on many levels; hopefully accepting her responsibility and apologizing will be an important example to all of us that we can overcome our regrettable decisions, despite the costly consequences this will have on her, ”Travis said in an email statement on Friday. Tygart, executive director of USADA.

Suspension for testing positive for marijuana can last up to two years. The minimum duration is one month, if the athlete is able to demonstrate that marijuana use was not related to athletic performance and if the person is undergoing a substance abuse treatment program. Last month, the USADA suspended Kahmari Montgomery , a sprinter, for a month after he tested positive for marijuana.

Richardson’s doping comes a week before the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee has to submit the list of athletes who will compete in Tokyo. And Richardson was not only supposed to be one of them, but she was also expected to be one of the best-known Olympians, at least by the end of the Games.

He led the opening of qualifying testing weekend , and attracted attention for his stellar performance, his orange mane (“to make sure I’m visible and they see me,” he said) and for an emotional moment in which he ran towards the stands to hug her grandmother.

Her victory in 10.86 seconds catapulted her as the favorite to gold in Tokyo and paved the way for a much-anticipated Olympic showdown with Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who took the gold in the 100 meters at the last world championships. . Richardson was the second fastest in the 100 meters this year, behind Fraser-Pryce , and in April she was the sixth fastest runner in history.

“This will be the last time the United States does not take home a gold medal in the 100,” Richardson had told NBC after his win.

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