Sha’Carri Richardson exams optimistic for marijuana
American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, slated to star in the Tokyo Olympics this month, could miss the Games after testing positive for marijuana.
21-year-old Richardson won the women’s 100-meter race in the US athletics tests in Oregon last month, but her test positive automatically invalidated her result in that marquee. It is unclear whether she will appeal the test result and disqualification or how long her suspension will last. It can only be a month. The suspension was confirmed by two people with knowledge of the test results who requested anonymity as they were not authorized to discuss the situation.
USA Track & Field has notified other women who competed in the 100-meter course finals of the failed drug test, according to a person who knows the information directly, and several runners have been told they have advanced a place in the finals Ranking list.
Jenna Prandini, who finished fourth in the Trials, has been notified that she will now be one of three Americans to run the 100 meters in Tokyo and Gabby Thomas, who finished fifth in the Trials, has been named to replace the race, the person said.
It is possible that Richardson could begin a month-long suspension at the time of her positive test on the exams, so she won’t be able to return to competition until July 30 just before the Olympics, which begin July 23.
The news of the positive test was first reported by The Gleaner, a newspaper in Jamaica.
Richardson was scheduled to compete over 200 meters at a Diamond League meeting in Stockholm on Sunday, but she was not on the event’s list on Thursday night. She didn’t comment on the positive test, but early Thursday afternoon she cryptically tweeted, “I’m human.”
While Richardson’s suspension could be over by the start of the Olympics, the positive test wiped her performance off the books in the Olympics. Unlike some other countries’ Olympic competitions, USA Track & Field’s procedures leave little discretion over who qualifies. They stipulate that the top three runners-up in a given discipline qualify for the Olympic Games in the exams, provided that their performance reaches the Olympic level.
It is possible that Richardson can still compete in the 4×100 meter relay, even if it is excluded from the individual race. The decision rests with USA Track & Field, the national governing body of sport.
Basics of the Summer Olympics
Up to six athletes will be selected for the country’s relay pool, four of which must be the first three over 100 meters in the Olympic trials and as replacements. The Board of Directors appoints the remaining two members of the relay pool.
USA Track & Field representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Neither did officials from the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the Athletics Integrity Unit, the independent anti-doping arm of World Athletics, the global governing body of athletics. Renaldo Nehemiah, Richardson’s agent, did not respond to a call or text on Thursday.
Marijuana is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s List of Prohibited Substances. Both USADA and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committees are signatories to the WADA Code, which means that they obey its rules.
The drug is only prohibited during competition times, which start at 11:59 pm the day before a competition and end at the end of the competition. 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 banned substance because it can increase performance, pose a health risk to athletes, and use it is against the spirit of sport.
Suspension for a positive marijuana test can take up to two years. The minimum duration is one month if an athlete can demonstrate that marijuana use is unrelated to athletic performance and if the person is completing a substance abuse treatment program. Just last month USADA suspended 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 is required to submit the names of its athletes competing in Tokyo. And Richardson would not just be one of them, but at least one of the most famous Olympians until the end of the Games.
She dominated the opening weekend of the exams, drawing attention to herself with her dazzling performances, her long orange hair (“to make sure I’m visible and seen,” she said) and an emotional moment as she sprinted into the stands to see herself to hug her grandmother.
Her victory in 10.86 seconds made her an instant favorite to win the gold medal in Tokyo and delivered a highly anticipated showdown at the Olympics with Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who won the 100 at the recent World Championships . Richardson ran the second fastest time this year behind Fraser-Pryce and in April ran the sixth fastest time ever.
After qualifying for the Olympic team, she told NBC that she learned a week before the trials that her birth mother had died.
“You all see me on this track and you see the poker face I put on, but nobody but you and my trainer know what I go through every day,” she said of her family.