A major controversy has arisen in the ranks of the United States Olympic team. Sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson's Olympic ambitions are now in serious doubt after failing a drug test due to marijuana use. The USADA announced Friday that Richardson, who had competed in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials and qualified for the team two weeks ago, had been disqualified from the 100-meter event and issued a one-month suspension due to a positive test for THC, which the World Anti-Doping Code classifies as a "Substance of Abuse."
Upon news of Richardson's suspension, many current and former sports stars came to Richardson's defense over the issue of marijuana use among athletes. As marijuana use has become more acceptable for both medical and recreational purposes, multiple athletes from various disciplines had strong reactions to Richardson's suspension.
Some, like Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, called Richardson's suspension "bulls---". Others, like Miami Heat great Dwyane Wade and Browns great Joe Thomas, pointed out the incongruence of Richardson's suspension relative to professional conflicts of interest and the idea that marijuana does not enhance an athlete's performance.
Oh , so Sha’Carri Richardson reached the level of fame where it’s “try and find ANYTHING“ to mess with her. Got it…— 🏁 Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) July 2, 2021
This is bull Shxt……tbh— Odell Beckham Jr (@obj) July 2, 2021
While marijuana has been legalized in multiple states in the United States -- including Oregon, which is where Richardson used the drug and then tested positive -- and other sports leagues have taken softer stances towards its use, the USADA nonetheless imposed sanctions on Richardson.
Speaking on "The Today Show," Richardson confessed that she had taken marijuana after being sent into a state of "emotional panic" upon learning that her biological mother had died.
"I know what I did, I know what I'm supposed to do ... and I still made that decision," Richardson said. "I'm not making an excuse or looking for empathy in my case. However, being in that position in my life, finding out something like that ... Dealing with the relationship I have with my mother, that definitely was a very heavy topic on me."
Although Richardson's suspension will prohibit her from competing in the 100-meter event, there is a chance that she could still participate in the Olympics as a member of the 4x100-meter relay, the participants for which are chosen by U.S. Track and Field officials.