Sha’Carri Richardson set the World U-20 (Under 20) record for the 100-meter race in 2019 and now, as of July 6, 2021, she has been left off of the U.S. 4×100 relay team for the Tokyo Olympics. Last month Richardson’s mother passed away, and she did something fully legal in nineteen states when she attempted to soften the blow by using medical marijuana. Richardson, who recently won the U.S. track and field trials, is being — for what specific reason unknown — is seemingly being used as an example to other athletes of the consequences of drug use. 

CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) Travis Thompson Tygart. Said in a press release, “The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking on many levels; hopefully, her acceptance of responsibility and apology will be an important example to us all that we can successfully overcome our regrettable decisions, despite the costly consequences of this one to her.”

Tygart’s press release does mention the fact that Richardson was drug tested in Oregon, where cannabis use is legal, and that marijuana, unlike steroids, does nothing to improve an athlete’s abilities. Several doctors have spoken out about how cannabis may be used as a calming agent and nothing more. 

Richardson has responded on television and through social media. On NBC’s “Today” news program: “As much as I’m disappointed, I know that when I step on the track I represent not only myself, I represent a community that has shown great support, great love. … I apologize for the fact that I didn’t know how to control my emotions or deal with my emotions during that time.”

And then on her Twitter account she posted: “I am human.” 

It is through Twitter that Richardson has regularly interacted with her followers the most. She confirmed her sexual orientation there, tweeting “my family knows I’m bi,” and where she has for angry mentioned her girlfriend time and again. Twitter has also become ground zero and disappointed supporters voicing their concerns about the Tokyo Olympics. 

Fellow LGBTQ-identified celebrities Billy Porter tweeted, “I stand with Sha’Carri!” while Olympian Adam Rippon tweeted, “My heart is broken for @itskerrii. I think she is an amazing athlete and her personality is superstar level. Marijuana being a banned substance in competition seems… outdated???? And unfair.” In response to the July 6 developments, Richardson herself changed her Twitter bio to read: “Just know I’m not slowing down.”

450,000 viewers, celebrities and fellow athletes have signed a petition to keep Richardson in the game. Meanwhile, U.S. House Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamie Raskin drafted a letter to the USADA that detailed the reasons why Richardson’s initial suspension should be rescinded. A portion of their argument reads, “anti-marijuana laws have a particularly ugly history of systemic racism. We call on WADA and USADA to reconsider restrictions on recreational marijuana use and any current suspensions that are in place on that basis.”

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