Sha’Carri Richardson is an American track and field athlete who was invited to compete in the 100-meter sprint and relay race in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, Sha’Carri’s dreams came to a hard stop after failing to pass marijuana drug tests.
This unfortunate incident cost her a spot on the Olympic relay team and her participation in the individual 100-meter dash competition. While her suspension was only valid for 30 days, which enabled her to participate in the relay race on August 5th, the Olympic commission still kept her out of the relay team roster.
While USA Track and Field (USATF) was the faction that did not include her in the roster, they also stated that they were incredibly sympathetic towards Richardson’s case and that international rules regarding marijuana in sports should be reevaluated.
An unfortunate event that has left sports enthusiasts feeling overwhelmed after learning from the athlete herself that it was stress brought on by her mother’s recent death that led her to consume marijuana.
While USATF is sympathetic towards the potential gold medal contender, they also had the responsibility of being sympathetic towards the runners who were not tagged for cannabis use and also deserved a spot on the Olympic team. Grating two other athletes a spot on the relay team before Richardson later agreed to the 30-day reduced suspension.
Although the controversy is there to be discussed, Sha’Carri Richardson took the ban like a true champ. Completely owning her faults for consuming a banned substance before competition and stating that she’s young (21 years old) and talented enough to qualify for the next Olympic games, not to mention the many to come after that.
Why Is Marijuana Illegal In the 2020 Olympics?
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which is the responsible entity to enforce violations like the one Richardson took part in, classifies THC (marijuana) as a prohibited substance. The only issue with that is that a WADA prohibited substance must meet at least two of the three following criteria:
- The substance poses a health risk to athletes
- It has the potential to enhance performance
- Using the substance violates the spirit of sport
Three requirements that at a glance make sense, but when scrutinized are bound to feel vague and ambiguous. Questions like the following could come up: What is the definition of the spirit of sport? How do we know the effects of marijuana on athletes enhance athletic performance? Does THC pose a health risk to athletes or is it the consumption method that does?
Where to From Here?
Cannabis legalization seems to be on a sure path to total legalization, but timing is still the issue and cases like Sha’Carri Richardson’s are bound to keep happening before that. The only positive aspect of a case like this is that it takes the world one step closer to it. More exposure on a subject like this one helps the knowledge around cannabis to grow and the taboos that envelop it to disappear.