Team U.S.A. announced their roster of 130 athletes who will be travelling to Tokyo this month, and 21-year-old sprint phenom, Sha’Carri Richardson‘s name was left off the list, effectively ending her Olympic dreams for this year.
I’m sorry, I can’t be y’all Olympic Champ this year but I promise I’ll be your World Champ next year 🤞🏽⚡️.
— Sha’Carri Richardson (@itskerrii) July 4, 2021
Shortly after winning the U.S. Olympic trials 100m, it was announced that Richardson had tested positive for THC, a chemical found in marijuana, which is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). She received a 30-day suspension, which made it impossible for her to compete in her signature event, the 100m, where she was expected to challenge for gold. Since her ban is set to end on August 5, however, many speculated that she might still have a chance at being named to the 4 x 100m relay team.
Despite her ban ending in time for the relay race, U.S.A. Track and Field (USATF) did not offer her a spot on the team, forcing the sprinter to wait until Paris 2024 to realize her Olympic Dreams. The USATF said in a statement following the decision that they sympathized with Richardson’s circumstances, and they agree the international rules around marijuana need to be updated.
“So while our heartfelt understanding lies with Sha’Carri,” they continued, “we must also maintain fairness for all of the athletes who attempted to realize their dreams by securing a place on the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team.”
Even U.S. President Joe Biden weighed in on the controversy, stating he was proud of the way the young runner handled her ban, but said “rules are rules”. “Whether they should remain the rules is a different issue, but the rules are the rules,” he added.
In an interview last week with the Today Show, Richardson said this is only one Olympic Games, and assured her fans this isn’t the end of her Olympic dreams.
“This is just one Games,” she said. “I’m 21, I’m very young. … I have plenty of Games left in me to compete in and I have plenty of talent that backs me up, because everything I do comes from me naturally. No steroid, no anything. This incident was about marijuana, so after my sanction is up I’ll be back and able to compete, and every single time I step on the track I’ll be ready for whatever anti-doping agency to come and get what it is that they need.”