Sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson has failed her drug test and is suspended for 30 days from the 2021 Summer Olympics. The track star tested positive for THC, a chemical found in Marijuana, so she cannot run alongside her Olympian teammates for an entire month. According to the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the runner must also forfeit any medals, points, and prizes she acquired during her qualifier. The news broke after the athlete victoriously won the 100-meter race in the US Olympic Track and Field Trials on June 19th.
Sha’Carri Richardson’s period of ineligibility began on June 28th, which means that by July 28th, she may be able to run alongside her fellow track athletes. Though her chances are slim, the upcoming star could participate in the Tokyo Games 4×100-meter relay. Still, the suspension removes her from running the 100-meter race, her signature event.
Sha’Carri Richardson Takes Responsibility For Her Actions
As a response to speculations and in hopes of clearing the air Sha’Carri Richardson quickly released a statement. On July 2nd, the track star appeared on the Today show to, “take responsibility for her actions.” She declared to the world that she did fail her drug test. She stated, “I know what I did. I know what I’m supposed to do, I’m allowed not to do, and I still made that decision. I’m not making any excuses or looking for any empathy.”
After her public announcement, many rose to her defense, like Olympic Gold Medalist soccer player Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe. According to her supporters, the suspension is unfair since Marijuana is not a performance-enhancing drug. Others claim the policy is outdated and firmly rooted in racism, only contributing further to the policing of African Americans. On July 2nd Congressman Jamaal Bowman tweeted, “There is no need for Sha’Carri to apologize. We need to get rid of archaic rules for a substance that is fully legal in 19 states plus D.C. And we need to legalize it at the federal level.” Still, not everyone shared this sentiment. When asked about his opinions on whether or not Sha’Carri Richardson should be allowed to run in the Olympics, President Joe Biden said, “The rules are the rules. Whether they should remain the rules is a different issue, but the rules are the rules.”
What Led To Her Critical Decision?
With so much on the line, like fame, honor, and glory, what led Sha’Carri Richardson to make the critical decision? During her airtime on the Today show, the runner candidly spoke about her struggles. She confessed to discovering through a reporter that her biological mother had passed. Richardson was made aware of the death during a live interview. She said the shocking news, alongside the pressure to make the Olympic team, led to her Marijuana use. Richardson knew she could not “hide” and would “still have to go out and put out a performance.” As a way of coping with her pain, she turned to drug use.
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Coping Mechanisms, Judgement, And Change
Sha’Carri Richardson’s decision to use Marijuana as a coping mechanism has stirred the world. Once again, the question of whether or not policymakers should legalize weed in the United States is front and center. Supporters of cannabis claim it lacks any scientific basis rooted solely in systemic racism. Non-supporters of progressive drug policies believe Richardson’s suspension is another win against the war on drugs. Whose viewpoint is correct? More discussion and research are needed to understand what is the right choice. Still, there are thousands of people like Sha’Carri Richardson who are coping through life by using Marijuana. In a tweet, she writes, “don’t judge me because I am human. I’m you. I just happen to run a little faster.”
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While the world decides whether or not Marijuana is safe to introduce recreationally to our lives, we must all remember to be empathetic to anyone battling substance abuse. The stigmatization surrounding drug use and addiction only adds to the strain felt by individuals trying to take life one day at a time. Though people should, of course, be held accountable for their actions, we are all human, and we all make mistakes. Mental health disorders and addiction are diseases no one chooses. Ensuring ample resources are available to help anyone overcome any mental health challenges or addictions now or in the future is essential.
Suzette Gomez earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida. Her desire to help others led her to a Pre-medical track with a focus on psychological and social development. After graduation, she pursued her passion for writing and began working as a Digital Content Writer at Recovery Worldwide LLC. With her background in medicine, Suzette uses both science and the arts to serve the public through her writing.
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