American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, who was set to star at the Tokyo Olympics this month, could miss the Games after testing positive for marijuana.
Richardson, 21, won the women’s 100 meters at the US track and field trials in Oregon last month, but her positive test automatically invalidated her result in the high-profile event.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency announced the positive result of the test on Friday morning and said Richardson had accepted a one-month suspension, effective June 28. This could clear her in time to run in the 4×100-meter relay that will take place later in the Games – if she is named to the US team.
In an interview with NBC on Friday, Richardson blamed testing positive on her marijuana use as a way to deal with the unexpected death of her birth mother while in Oregon for Olympic trials. She said she learned of the death of a reporter during an interview and called it a trigger and “certainly shocking to the nerves.”
“It put me in a state of emotional panic,” she said.
She apologized to her fans, family and sponsors, saying, “I disappointed you all.”
âI didn’t know how to control my emotions or manage my emotions during this time,â she said.
USA Track & Field has informed other women who have competed in the 100-meter final during the trials of the drug test failure, according to a person with direct knowledge of the information, and several runners have been informed that they had won a place in the final ranking.
Jenna Prandini, who placed fourth in practice, has been told she will now be one of three Americans to race the 100 in Tokyo, and Gabby Thomas, who finished fifth in practice, has been named a substitute for the race, the person mentionned.
Richardson will be eligible to return to competition just prior to the start of track and field events at the Games on July 30. The schedule for this day includes the first qualifying rounds for the women’s 100m.
Richardson was scheduled to compete in the 200 meters at a Diamond League meeting in Stockholm on Sunday, but she was not on the list for the event on Thursday night. Early Thursday afternoon, she cryptically tweeted, “I’m human.”
While Richardson’s suspension will be over by the time the Olympic track and field competition begins, the positive test has erased her performance at the Women’s 100 Olympic Trials, meaning she will not compete in the event. Unlike the Olympic selection processes of some other countries, USA Track & Field procedures leave little room for discretion over who qualifies. They dictate that the top three in a given practice event qualify for the Olympics, provided their performance meets Olympic standard.
It is possible that Richardson could still compete in the 4×100-meter relay even though she is excluded from the individual race. The decision would rest with USA Track & Field, the sport’s national governing body.
Up to six athletes are selected for the country’s relay group, and four of them must be the top three in the 100 meters at the Olympic Trials and as a substitute. The governing body appoints the other two members of the relay pool.
In one declaration, USA Track & Field said Richardson’s situation “is incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved,” but made no mention of whether or how she would compete in the Olympics.
Richardson’s agent Renaldo Nehemiah did not respond to a phone call or text on Thursday.
Marijuana is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s charts list of prohibited substances. USADA and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee are both signatories to the AMA code, which means they follow its rules.
The drug is only prohibited during competition periods, which are defined as starting at 11:59 p.m. the day before a competition and ending at its conclusion. Athletes can have up to 150 nanograms per milliliter of THC, the main psychoactive substance in marijuana, without causing a positive test.
According to USADA, marijuana is a prohibited substance because it can improve performance, it poses a risk to the health of athletes and its consumption violates the spirit of the sport.
A suspension for a positive marijuana test can be up to two years. The minimum duration is one month, if an athlete can prove that marijuana use was unrelated to athletic performance and if the person completes a drug treatment program. Just last month USADA suspends Kahmari Montgomery, a sprinter, for a month after testing positive for marijuana.
Richardson’s positive test came about a week before the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee was due to submit the names of its athletes competing in Tokyo. And Richardson was not only supposed to be one of them, but also one of the most recognizable Olympians, at least by the end of the Games.
She dominated the opening weekend of Trials, drawing attention to her scintillating performances, her long orange hair (“to make sure I’m visible and seen,” she said) and a moment moving when she sprinted into the stands to hug her grandmother.
Her 10.86-second victory made her an instant favorite to win gold in Tokyo and set up a much-anticipated Olympics showdown with Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who won the 100 at the last world championships. Richardson ran the second fastest 100 this year, behind Fraser-Pryce, and in April achieved the sixth fastest time of all time.
After qualifying for the Olympic team, she told NBC that a week before the trials she learned that her birth mother had passed away.
“You all see me on this track, and you all see the poker face I put on, but no one but them and my coach knows what I go through on a daily basis,” she said of the comment. from his family.