American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson said she was not bothered by USA Track and Field’s announcement that she would not compete in the Olympic Games this summer, saying she figured she would not be selected for the team due to her marijuana use.
‘Honestly that news didn’t bother me because me and my team were realistic, so we kind of figured that they would say that in the first place,’ Richardson said in an interview with TMZ on Wednesday as she waited for a ride outside Los Angeles International Airport.
‘I understand the situation that’s going on so I’m accepting of it, and I just know what I have to do moving forward on my own,’ she said.
‘And if my talent is good enough for me to run in a relay, why isn’t it good enough for me to run on my own?’ Richardson asked, noting that she will watch ‘some races’ at the Olympic Games later this month.
Officials on Tuesday announced that Richardson, 21, would not be selected to run in the 4×100-meter relay in Tokyo, after she was previously banned from the 100-meter dash over her marijuana use
She was expected to be one of the biggest draws at the upcoming Tokyo Games
Richardson, 21, was expected to be a major draw at this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. The Games were postponed last year due to the pandemic.
She had previously accepted a one-month ban on participating in events after testing positive for cannabis, but the suspension was set to end before the 4×100-meter relay event, leading some to hope she could still compete.
But on Tuesday, USA Track and Field announced that it would not allow her compete in the relay either.
In a statement posted to Twitter, USA Track and Field said it has sympathy for Richardson, but it also has a responsibility to ‘maintain fairness for all of the athletes.’
‘While USATF fully agrees that the merit of the World Anti-Doping Agency rules related to THC should be reevaluated, it would be detrimental to the integrity of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track & Field if USATF amended its policies following competition, only weeks before the Olympic Games,’ the organization said in the statement.
On Sunday, Richardson thanked her supporters in a tweet
Following the announcement that Richardson would not compete in the 4×100-metre relay, she tweeted that there has been more attention on the track team in recent weeks, and ‘you can’t be mad at that’
Following the announcement, Richardson tweeted: ‘The attention that is on track now and was because of very, very few names. So if that’s where fans support lay, you can’t be mad at that.’
Reuters has previously reported that her test came back positive for marijuana use at the US Olympic trials last month, where Richardson established herself as a gold medal contender by winning the 100-meter in 10.86 seconds.
She claims that she only used marijuana to help cope with the death of her biological mother before the trials in Oregon.
‘I just say don’t judge me because I am human,’ she told NBC’s Today Show on Friday. ‘I’m you, I just happen to run a little faster.’
Richardson explained that she learned about her biological mother’s passing from a reporter’s question during an interview days before she established herself as a gold medal contender by winning the 100-meter dash in 10.86 seconds at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon on June 19.
Richardson visibly celebrated her success at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials in Eugene, Oregon, but was soon found to have tested positive for marijuana use
Richardson is set to be replaced on Team USA by Jenna Prandini, who finished fourth in the 100 meter sprint that Richardson had won
Afterwards, Richardson said she used marijuana in an ’emotional panic’, leading to the failed drug test that was revealed after her 100-meter win.
‘I knew I was having an interview,’ she said Friday. ‘I was just thinking it would be a normal interview. And then… to hear that information come from a complete stranger, I was definitely triggering, it was nerve shocking because it’s just like, how are you to tell me that? And no offense against him at all. He was just doing his job. But definitely, that put me in a state of mind, in a state of emotional panic, if anything.’
But Richardson was not using her mother’s death to excuse her decision. Marijuana is legal in Oregon, so she didn’t break any law, but she did know the potential consequences of using the drug.
‘I want to apologize for our actions,’ she said. ‘I know what I did. I know what I’m supposed to do. What I’m allowed not to do and I still made that decision. But [I’m] not making an excuse or looking for any empathy in my case.’
After she qualified for the games, Richardson said that her mom had died the week before. Details about the death of Richardson’s mother have not been reported.
She said: ‘My family has kept me grounded.
‘This year has been crazy for me. Going from just last week, losing my biological mother, and I’m still here…
‘Last week, finding out my biological mother passed away and still choosing to pursue my dreams, still coming out here, still here to make the family that I do still have on this earth proud…
‘I’m highly grateful for them. Without them, there would be no me. Without my grandmother, there would be no Sha’Carri Richardson. My family is my everything, my everything until the day I’m done.’
‘Y’all see me on this track, and y’all see the poker face that I put on, but nobody but them and my coach know what I go through on a day-to-day basis.’
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday said ‘it does stink’ that American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson will not participate in the Olympic Games this summer
On Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said ‘it does stink’ that Richardson will not be able to participate in the Olympics.
CNN host John Berman asked Psaki about President Joe Biden’s reaction to the news that Richardson would not be representing the US at all in this year’s Olympics on Wednesday, saying: ‘Doesn’t that just stink?’
‘It does stink John, and I don’t think there a better definition of it,’ Psaki replied.
‘She’s someone, as an Olympic-obsessed person myself, I know the president watches closely, who is inspiring.
‘She lost her mother, she had gone through a tragedy. She’s also the fastest woman in the world and I think she’s sending a message to a lot of little girls out there: “You can do this.”‘
Biden, pictured, said that ‘the rules are the rules’ while appearing to suggest that perhaps they should be changed in the future.
Psaki’s comments contradicted those of Biden himself – who said last week that the ban was fair because ‘rules are rules’.
Psaki, however, suggested that the US Olympic committee should reexamine their rules and said Richardson still has a bright future.
‘It’s sad to see this be the end- it’s not the end I should say- it’s maybe the beginning of her story,’ she said. ‘We know the rules are where they are, maybe we should take another look at them.’
‘We certainly have to respect the role of the US Anti-doping Agency and the US Olympic committee and the decisions they make but it is sad and we do wish her luck and look forward to seeing her running as the fastest woman in the world for years to come,’ Psaki added.
Some on Twitter echoed the White House spokeswoman’s sentiments, including one person who tweeted: ‘it does stink.. but rules are rules.. both are true..’
‘It does stink and rules are rules as the young lady herself said,’ someone else tweeted. ‘No drama there, she owned her actions and took personal responsibility … refreshing now-a-days isn’t it?’
‘Ms. Psaki: is she also sending a message to little girls that it is ok to smoke marijuana, violate the rules, and still expect to be on the US Olympic Team? I don’t think the appeal to the message we are sending little girls is a good argument, in this situation,’ another person tweeted.
Psaki was later criticized on Twitter for her comments supporting Richardson
Psaki previously stood by Richardson but stopped short of opposing the decision to suspend her.
Last week she praised Richardson as ‘an inspiring young woman’ but said it was ‘appropriate’ for the US Anti-Doping Agency to make its own independent decisions about anti-doping policies.
‘This was an independent decision made by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and not, not, a decision that would be made by the US government, as is appropriate,’ Psaki said.
‘We will certainly leave them the space and room to make their decisions about anti-doping policies that need to be implemented.
‘I will also note that Sha’Carri Richardson is an inspiring young woman,’ Psaki said – adding that Richardson ‘has gone through a lot personally’ and ‘happens to be one of the fastest women in the world.’
‘That’s an important part of the story as well,’ she said.
Biden addressed the suspension on Friday and said that it was proper for Richardson to be banned, but that he was ‘really proud of the way she responded’ to her ban after she appeared on the Today show and apologized.
‘The rules are the rules, and everybody knows what the rules were going in. Whether they should remain that way or will is a totally different issue,’ Biden told CBS News reporter Bo Erickson.
Richardson’s penchant for long, lavishly-decorated nails saw her compared to megastar Olympic sprinter Florence ‘Flo-Jo’ Griffith-Joyner, who won three gold medals at Seoul in 1988
Richardson’s incredible athletic prowess saw her compared to iconic sprinter Florence ‘Flo-Jo’ Griffith-Joyner.
In a glowing profile published last month, Vogue favorably compared Richardson to Flo-Jo, and highlighted how the two star athletes even shared a penchant for long, lavishly-decorated fingernails.
Flo-Jo became an athletics megastar after winning gold in the 100m, 200m and relay at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
She died aged just 38 in September 1998 after suffering a massive epileptic seizure in her sleep.
Flo-Jo was also accused of using performance-enhancing drugs after a rapid improvement in her form ahead of the 1998 games, but passed all drug tests she took while competing.
Several politicians have since expressed their support for Richardson, who thanked her fans in a series of tweets over the weekend.
‘The support my community I thank y’all, the negative forget y’all and enjoy the games because we all know it won’t be the same,’ she tweeted on July 4.
‘I’m sorry, I can’t be y’all Olympic Champ this year but I promise I’ll be your World Champ next year.’
She added: ‘All these perfect people that know how to live life, I’m glad I’m not one of them!’
Richardson also retweeted a post that reads: ‘People talking about ‘rules are rules’ but half of y’all couldn’t even abide by public health guidelines during a pandemic.’
But others have not been so supportive of the decision by sport bosses, with infamous stoner Seth Rogen accusing Team USA of ‘racism’.
The actor-comedian, a vocal advocate for marijuana who co-wrote and starred in the 2008 stoner film Pineapple Express, tweeted on Friday that ‘the notion that weed is a problematic ‘drug’ is rooted in racism.’
‘It’s insane that Team USA would disqualify one of this country’s most talented athletes over thinking that’s rooted in hatred. It’s something they should be ashamed of. Also if weed made you fast, I’d be FloJo,’ Rogen, 38, said.
His comments mirror those of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who tweeted Friday: ‘The criminalization and banning of cannabis is an instrument of racist and colonial policy. The IOC should reconsider its suspension of Ms. Richardson and any athletes penalized for cannabis use.’
Selma Blair also defended Richardson on Twitter, replying to Richardson’s latest tweets, writing: ‘Marijuana is not a performance enhancing drug. This is wrong and a shame. I am so sorry.’
Nike has also stood by the athlete, confirming on Friday the sportswear giant would be continuing its sponsorship of Richardson, which dates back to 2019.
‘We appreciate Sha’Carri’s honesty and accountability and will continue to support her through this time,’ a spokesman said.
English Gardner and Aleia Hobbs, who finished just behind Richardson at the Olympic trials, will now round out the relay team.