USADA Responds To Backlash From Sha'Carri Richardson Suspension

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Within the last month, Sha'Carri Richardson has transitioned from being one of the world's foremost track stars to becoming a household name across the nation. Initially, casual fans grew to know Richardson because of her performance in the 100-meter dash final at the U.S. Olympic Trials and the special moment she shared with her grandmother. Then, Richardson's berth in the Tokyo Olympics was struck down when she tested positive for THC. In a recent interview, the track star explained that she suddenly learned that her biological mother has passed away through a reporter during an interview. Shortly thereafter, Richardson used marijuana to cope with the tragedy and performed extraordinarily well at the U.S. Olympic Trials. As a result, she tested positive for marijuana and was barred from the Tokyo Olympics. Many public figures, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamie Raskin, pointed out that cannabis use is legal in Oregon and it does not enhance her performance. In the future, there is a hope that these rules will be changed to better assist athletes.

"The criminalization and banning of cannabis is an instrument of racist and colonial policy," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

"The IOC should reconsider its suspension of Ms. Richardson and any athletes penalized for cannabis use. This ruling along w/ IOC denial of swim caps for natural hair is deeply troubling."

After receiving pushback from athletes, fans, lawmakers and others, the United States Anti-Doping Agency fired back. In a letter signed by USADA CEO Travis Tygart, the organization said that it needs more global support to remove marijuana from the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned substance list.

"Most governments in the world have been very reluctant to take marijuana off the prohibited list for public health reasons," USADA stated.

"It is worth noting that when marijuana was included in the first prohibited list in 2004, one of the strongest advocates for inclusion of marijuana on the prohibited list was the U.S. government."

In closing, USADA acknowledged the tough situation that Richardson was put in during the U.S. Olympic Trials. Moving forward, USADA pledged to push for policy changes within WADA and the IOC.

"To her credit, Ms. Richardson acknowledged that she knew the risk of using marijuana, and chose to use it anyway, before competing in the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials," the letter adds.

"USADA will continue to advocate for rule changes which would better address tragic situations like Ms. Richardson’s."

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