Saturday, July 10th Sha’Carri Richardson shined at the Espy Awards in New York. Making this the first public appearance Richardson has made after being suspended and cut from the US Women’s Olympic track team for testing positive for THC. Tests showed that Richardson was over the USADA Decision Limit of 180 ng/mL. Despite being forced to miss this years Olympic Games in to Tokyo, Sha’Carri showed up to the Espy’s wearing a mesh dress and heels along with her signature confidence and flamboyance that world has come to know and love in just about a month.
Richardson’s suspension by the USADA has received plenty of backlash from celebrities, fellow athletes, and just about everyone. Many consider Richardson’s suspension to be unfair considering she was in a state where THC and other Cannabis and marijuana related products are legal. In addition to using in a legal state, many people are outraged that USADA is not taking into consideration and extending empathy in regards that the week prior to the trials Richardson used THC to help her cope after finding out from a reporter during an interview that her biological mother had passed away. After sharing this fact to reporters in a post run interview Richardson stated ,”You never know what someone is going through.” The general public also continued to note that THC, Cannabis, and marijuana are not performance enhancing drugs and would in-fact regress someone’s performance and activity. In response to public outcry the USADA issued a statement on their website that explains their decision and the terms of disqualification. Part of the statement reads:
The 2021 World Anti-Doping Code newly classifies THC as a “Substance of Abuse” because it is frequently used in society outside the context of sport. 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 will receive a three-month sanction. However, if the athlete satisfactorily completes a Substance of Abuse treatment program approved by USADA, the sanction may be further reduced to one month.
In this case, Richardson accepted a one-month period of ineligibility that began on June 28, 2021, the date of her provisional suspension. 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. Her one-month period of ineligibility—the minimum allowed under the rules—is the same result as the two other Substance of Abuse cases that USADA has handled since the 2021 Code took effect.
Richardson’s competitive results obtained on June 19, 2021, including her Olympic qualifying results at the Team Trials, have been disqualified, and she forfeits any medals, points, and prizes. Beyond the one-month sanction, athlete eligibility for the Tokyo Games is determined by the USOPC and/or USA Track & Field eligibility rules.
One factor that has people coming to the aid and defense of Sha’Carri is her integrity and honesty in taking responsibility for her actions. Sha’Carri quickly owned her part and never tried to deny using THC. In an virtual interview with The Today Show, Sha’Carri stated that although she was sorry if she let her family, community, and fans down she was in a extreme amount of pain and was still forced to put on a brave face and basically perform as if nothing happened. Referring to a tweet she posted simply saying “I Am Human.” She revealed that underneath the colorful wigs, long nails, and confidence she was feeling the weight of grief. Not only just grieving the loss of her biological mother physically but also grieving everything that relationship was and wasn’t.The LSU phenom went on to say that although THC was her method of coping with her pain she has never and will never use steroids or any performance enhancing drugs. She urged viewers to not assume this is going to be a gateway to other drugs. Sha’Carri made it clear that this is the last time she would be ineligible to compete in the Olympics, and that this was an isolated event due to extremely tragic circumstances, and that her talent is one hundred percent natural.
During last week’s Espy’s held at The Rooftop At Pier 17 at Seaport host Anthony Mackie, star of Disney +’s Falcon And The Winter Soldier, opened the show joking that “We up here on a rooftop in New York City. Man, we’re so high they wouldn’t let us compete in the Olympics.” This caused Richardson to laugh at the reference. Mackie continued to defend Richardson while expressing his disagreement with the suspension by saying “USA Track & Field: How you mess it up, dog? How do you justify banning Sha’Carri Richardson for smoking weed? Weed is a de-hancing drug — it doesn’t make you do anything but want to watch another episode of ‘Bob’s Burgers.’ You never saw Snoop Dogg run anywhere! I don’t know how you justify not letting her run.”
Although she won’t be the US Olympic Gold medal winner for the 100 meter, Sha’Carri is quick to remind everyone that she is only 21 and unlike most she still has plenty of time to compete for that Olympic gold. While she waits to compete against the world the admiration for Sha’Carri continues to grow. As do the financial opportunities. Nike announced that due to hearing the circumstance Sha’Carri was in when she used THC they would continue to be a sponsor to Richardson. Other new offers have come in, including a $250,000 offer from vape pen company Dr. Dabber to be a spokesperson. There’s no word yet if Sha’Carri is even entertaining the proposition or not. One things for sure: no one can deny the power and presence of Sha’Carri. She most certainly still THAT girl.