Just last month, American champion Sha’Carri Richardson was titled the fastest woman in the country and now she won’t be able to compete in the Olympic 100-meter race for testing positive for cannabis.
On Friday July 2nd, the sprinter confirmed on the Today show that she had tested positive at the June 19 Olympic trials after winning the 100-meter race in 10.86 seconds, and because of that her results will be automatically erased. As a penalty, Richardson has accepted a 30-day suspension that ends on July 27, which means she could still run in the women’s relays. However, USA Track and Field (USATF) has not yet confirmed its plans for those races.
Ahead of initial reports that Richardson had tested positive, on Thursday she tweeted simply, “I am human.” And on Friday, she confirmed to Today that she had used the drug—which is now legal for recreational use in 18 states including Oregon, where the Olympic trials were held—as a way to try and cope with the recent death of her mother. She confirmed to the morning-show hosts that a reporter told her during an interview that her biological mother had passed away. “I was definitely triggered and blinded by emotions, blinded by badness, and hurting, and hiding hurt,” she explained. “I know I can’t hide myself, so in some type of way, I was trying to hide my pain.” Richardson was able to reduce what could have been a three-month sanction from the sport to just one month after participating in a counseling program. She said that if she’s allowed to run in the Olympic relay at the end of the month, “I’m grateful, but if not, I’m just going to focus on myself.”
International regulators relaxed the threshold for what they consider to be a positive cannabis test from 15 to 150 nanograms per milliliter following the London Olympics in 2012. The group explained that the move was an attempt to ensure that only in-competition use is detected, but not use during the days or weeks before competition. USATF released a statement following the news of Richardson’s positive test results, saying that her situation “is incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved.” The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee also said it was “working with USATF to determine the appropriate next steps.”