*deep, heavy, negro spiritual sigh*
Following a failed drug test for marijuana, I regret to inform you all that burgeoning track and field superstar Sha’Carri Richardson will not be participating in the women’s 100-meter race at the Tokyo Olympics. The same 100-meter race that she dominated at the Olympic Trials with an absurd time of 10.86 seconds.
From CBS Sports:
American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson will not be able to participate in the 100-meter event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The 21-year-old standout, who was expected to contend for a gold medal, tested positive for marijuana at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June. On Friday, Richardson accepted a one-month ban, retroactive to June 28, for failing the test.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency’s rules on the matter explicitly state that after testing positive for marijuana, Richardson was subject to a three-month suspension. However, because she opted to undergo a treatment program, that suspension is reduced to one month and will be lifted on July 27.
During an appearance on The Today Show on Friday, Richardson took accountability for her actions and admitted that the recent passing of her mother and the pressure to meet otherworldly expectations factored into her decision to use marijuana.
“I want to take responsibility for my actions,” Richardson said. “I know what I did. I know what I’m supposed to do. I know what I’m allowed not to do. But I still made that decision. I’m not making an excuse.”
Richardson remains hopeful that she’ll be able to compete in the 4x100 relay and made it abundantly clear that she has never used performance-enhancing drugs. She also reflected on an uncomfortable moment during the Olympic Trials when a reporter revealed on-camera that her mother had recently passed.
“To hear that information coming from a complete stranger, it was definitely triggering,” she said. “It was definitely nerve-shocking. It was just like, ‘Who are you to tell me that?’ No offense against him at all. He was just doing his job. But definitely, that sent me into a state of mind, a state of emotional panic.”
She continued, “I still have to go out and put out a performance for my dream, go out there and still compete. From there, just blinded by emotions, just blinded by hurting. I knew I couldn’t hide myself. In some type of way, I was just trying to hide my pain.”
As incredibly foolish as it is to be suspending professional athletes for weed in 2021, Richardson knew the consequences of her actions beforehand and still opted to do so anyway. This is especially frustrating because in being an unapologetic Black woman with an exuberant style and personality, she was already under the microscope and had little margin for error.
Thankfully, despite her misstep, the 21-year-old still has plenty of people in her corner.
It’s also important to remember that for all of their extraordinary feats, athletes are still human. None of us are infallible, and hopefully, Richardson learns from this situation and is able to come to terms with the loss of her mother and the unfathomable expectations we’ve heaped upon her on her own time.