American sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson may miss an opportunity to represent the 100-meter dash at the 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. According to the United States Anti-Doping Agency, Richardson tested positive for cannabis which is considered a “substance of abuse” under the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code. Moving forward, Richardson will face a suspension that will likely last anywhere between one month and three months.
“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,” USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said.
Hours after news of Richardson's failed test became public, she appeared on NBC's TODAY to talk about the matter in depth. The Dallas native said that she was "disappointed" by what has taken place and she apologized to her friends, fans and family.
"I apologize," Richardson said.
"As much as I'm disappointed I know that when I step on the track I represent not only myself, I represent a community that has shown great support, great love. I apologize for the fact that I didn't know how to control my emotions or deal with my emotions during that time."
Fans have taken to social media to support Richardson and express their frustration with her looming suspension. Many fans pointed out that USADA has been cannabis for competition, but the substance is legalized in nearly the entire country. Other fans humorously pointed out that running quickly is actually harder, not easier, under the influence of cannabis. Even other professional athletes like Odell Beckham Jr. and Jamal Crawford chimed in to offer their support for the star sprinter.
"This is bull s---. Tbh," the star wide receiver tweeted.
"Sha’Carri Richardson reached the level of fame where it’s 'try and find anything' to mess with her. Got it," Jamal Crawford added.
Richardson will not only miss an opportunity to win her first gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games, but she will also miss a Diamond League event in Stockholm this summer. In addition, she will have to vacate her first-place finish at the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials last month.
Her absence from the 2021 Summer Olympic Games will present a major challenge for Team USA. Having run a wind-aided time of 10.64 seconds last month, she was expected to go toe-to-toe with the world's fastest woman, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, in the 100-meter dash final.
In Richardson's absence, the sprinter who finished fourth in the 100-meter dash final at the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials will likely take her place. Jenna Prandini of Clovia, California ran an impressive time of 11.11 seconds in Eugene, Oregon, but it will be hard to make up for the speed Richardson possesses.