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Sha’Carri Richardson, the sprinter with flowing orange hair who won the 100 meters at the 2021 Olympic Track and Field Trials, failed an in-competition drug test on June 19, the day of her victory, and has been suspended.
In that race, Richardson finished first in 10.86, Javianne Oliver was second in 10.99, and Teahna Daniels was third in 11.03. They were thought to be representing the U.S. at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in the event before the results of drug testing were known.
After the race, the 21-year-old Richardson jumped into the stands to hug her grandmother. In a trackside interview, she said she had learned that week that her biological mother had died.
Now, Jenna Prandini, the fourth-place finisher, has been told she will run the event in Tokyo, according to The New York Times.
Here’s what we know about Richardson’s case:
• According to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), she tested positive for Carboxy-THC, the main ingredient in marijuana.
• She’s suspended for one month. USADA’s statement says that world anti-doping rules classify THC as a “Substance of Abuse,” because it is frequently used in society outside the context of sport. (Marijuana is legal in Oregon, where the Olympic Trials were held.)
If an athlete who tests positive for a Substance of Abuse establishes that their use of the substance occurred out of competition and was unrelated to sport performance, the athlete receives a three-month sanction. The suspension can be reduced to one month if the athlete completes a USADA-approved treatment program, which Richardson did.
• Richardson has accepted a one-month suspension, which began on June 28. “Richardson’s period of ineligibility was reduced to one month because her use of cannabis occurred out of competition and was unrelated to sport performance, and because she successfully completed a counseling program regarding her use of cannabis,” USADA said.
• Her results at the Trials have been disqualified.
• The first round of the women’s 100 meters in Tokyo begins on July 30.
• On July 2, Richardson appeared on Today, and said she takes “responsibility for my actions. I know what I did. I know what I’m supposed to do. I’m allowed not to do. I still made that decision.” She also said the that after the recent news of her mother’s death, delivered to her by a journalist during an interview, she was “blinded by emotion, bad news, just hurting … In some type of way, I was just trying to hide my pain.”
• USA Track & Field (USATF) issued a statement that read, “Sha’Carri Richardson’s situation is incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved. Athlete health and well-being continue to be one of USATF’s most critical priorities and we will work with Sha’Carri to ensure she has ample resources to overcome any mental health challenges now and in the future.”
• THC is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency for three reasons. Among them: “Based on current animal and human studies as well as on interviews with athletes and information from the field, cannabis can be performance enhancing for some athletes and sports disciplines.”
Here’s what we don’t know:
• Will Richardson be allowed to participate in the 4×100-meter relay? USATF usually takes the top six finishers in the 100 meters in the pool for that event. Currently, Gabby Thomas and English Gardner are listed as the fifth- and sixth-place finishers. But if Richardson’s name is removed from results, Aleia Hobbs moves from seventh to sixth.
• USATF was to have submitted the team roster to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee on July 1. Who was on the list? Was Richardson’s name included?
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