Sha’Carri Richardson, the triumphant track star who won over hearts with her poise and athletic ability has been suspended from the Olympic team for one month after testing positive for marijuana.
“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 USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart in a press release.
Richardson spoke out right after it was revealed that she tested positive during an interview with TODAY host Savannah Guthrie where she apologized to her family, fans, and her haters. In her statement, Richardson also made it clear that the sanction was not due to performance-enhancing drugs.
“I apologize,” she said. “As much as I’m disappointed, I know that when I step on the track, I don’t represent myself. I represent a community that has shown me great support, great love, and I failed you all. So I apologize for the fact that I didn’t know how to control my emotions or deal with my emotions.”
“Don’t judge me because I am human. I’m you, I just happen to run a little faster,” she later said.
The runner reportedly tested positive for THC after dazzling at the women’s 100-meter race trials last month in Eugene, Oregon, with a time of 10.86 seconds.
In her discussion with Guthrie, she hinted at the emotional turmoil she’s endured over the last month after gaining an influx of media attention after the trials. Directly after her incredible performance in Oregon Richardson thanked her grandmother during an emotional embrace and revealed that just a week prior to the race her mother passed away.
“(I’m) not making an excuse or looking for any empathy in my case, but, however, being in that position in my life, finding out something like that, something that I would say is probably one of the biggest things that have impacted me … that definitely was a very heavy topic on me,” she said.
Richardson said she found out prior to the race during an interview with a reporter who informed her of her mother’s death. The news, she said, drove her to cope with marijuana usage.
On social media, users were enraged over the news, as it was revealed on Thursday evening that Richardson may not make the trip to Tokyo.
Richardson quickly tweeted, asking for grace in the situation.
Multiple takes on the situation harkened back to Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, who tested positive for marijuana in 2009, six months after the 2008 Olympics, and five months before the 2009 World Championships.
Phelps was suspended from competition for three months.
Others referenced the actions of swimmer Ryan Lochte who fabricated a mugging during the 2016 games in Brazil.
The sanction also reveals the complicated and race-based mindset on marijuana use, especially as states move to legalize the substance across America.
However, all hope may not be lost for Richardson who could still possibly compete in the 4X100 relay race which is slated to take place on Aug. 6.
This is a developing story and will be updated when more information becomes available.