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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.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency announced the positive test result Friday morning and said Richardson had accepted a month-long suspension from June 28. That could clear her up in time for the 4×100 meter relay, which takes place later in the Games – if she is called up to the US team.
In an interview with NBC on Friday, Richardson took the positive test attributed to her use of marijuana to cope with the unexpected death of her birth mother while she was in Oregon for the Olympic trials. She said she learned of the death from a reporter during an interview and described it as triggering and “definitely nerve-wracking”.
“It put me in a state of emotional panic,” she said.
She apologized to her fans, family and sponsors and said, “I’ve let you all down.”
“I didn’t know how to control my emotions or how to deal with my emotions during that time,” she said.
USA Track & Field has notified other women competing in the 100m finals of the failed drug test, according to one person with direct knowledge of the information, and several runners have been told they have a place in the top category have postponed the final scoring.
Jenna Prandini, who finished fourth in the Trials, has been notified that she will now be one of three American women to race the 100s in Tokyo and Gabby Thomas, who finished fifth in the Trials, has been named to replace the race. the person said.
Richardson is entitled to return to competition shortly before the start of the track and field events at the July 30th Games. The schedule for that day includes the first 100 qualifying rounds of women.
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. Early on Thursday afternoon she tweeted cryptically: “I am a person”.
While Richardson’s suspension will be over by the time the Olympic track and field competition begins, testing positive in the Olympic Trials in the women’s 100s ruined her, meaning she won’t compete in the event. Unlike some other countries’ Olympic competitions, USA Track & Field’s procedures leave little discretion as to who qualifies. They stipulate that the top three winners in a particular discipline qualify for the Olympic Games in the exams, provided that their performance reaches the Olympic level.
It is possible that Richardson could 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.
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.
In a statement, USA Track & Field said Richardson’s situation “is unexpectedly unfortunate and devastating for all concerned,” but made no mention of whether or how she would compete in the Olympics.
Renaldo Nehemiah, Richardson’s agent, did not respond to a call or text message on Thursday.
Marijuana is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances. Both USADA and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committees are signatories to the WADA Code, which means that they obey its rules.
Basics of the Summer Olympics
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 the USADA, marijuana is a banned substance because it can increase performance, pose a health risk to athletes, and use it is contrary to 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 100 this year, behind Fraser-Pryce, and in April the sixth-fastest time of all time.
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.