REPORT: Sha’Carri Richardson Tests Positive for Cannabis at Olympic Trials, In Danger of Missing Olympics
July 1, 2021
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US 100-meter champion Sha’Carri Richardson tested positive for cannabis at last month’s US Olympic Trials and may miss the Olympics, according to the Jamaica Gleaner. Richardson, 21, one of the biggest stars of the Trials in Eugene, owns a personal best of 10.72 in the 100 meters, the #2 time in the world this year, and, along with two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica and world 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith, was among the medal favorites in what projects as one of the most exciting events of the Games.
Richardson has not issued a statement yet but this morning tweeted this out:
She also withdrew from Sunday’s Diamond League meeting in Stockholm, where she was scheduled to run the 200 meters.
Cannabinoids such as marijuana and THC are prohibited in-competition and are classified as Specified Substances by the WADA Code. The ban for testing positive for a Specified Substance in-competition is four years if the anti-doping organization can show the use was intentional; if not, or if the athlete can show the substance was used out-of-competition, the ban is two years. In addition, because THC is classified by WADA as a Substance of Abuse by WADA, the ban can be reduced further: to three months if the athlete “can establish that any ingestion or use occurred out-of-competition and was unrelated to sport performance” and one month if the athlete “satisfactorily completes a Substance of Abuse treatment program approved by the anti-doping organization with results management responsibility.”
Another American sprinter, 2018 US 400-meter champion Kahmari Montgomery, tested positive for THC at the Miramar Invitational on April 10 and served a one-month ban from April 30 – May 29 after completing the treatment program.
Even if Richardson is handed the minimum ban, she would still miss the Olympics in the individual 100 meters as her result at the US Olympic Trials would be disqualified. Because USA Track & Field picks its Olympic team in the 100m based on the results of the Trials, Richardson would be replaced on the 100m team by Jenna Prandini, the fourth-placer in the Olympic Trials 100 meters. The women’s 100m final at the Trials was held on June 19; the first round of the women’s 100m at the Olympics is on July 30.
If Richardson serves the minimum one-month ban, there is still a chance she could be named to the 4×100 relay team for the Olympics (more details below).
LetsRun.com has reached out to USADA for comment but did not immediately hear back.
Quick Take: This is ridiculous
Sha’Carri Richardson should not miss the Olympics for a drug that is not performance-enhancing and is legal in the state where she tested positive for it. Drug testing is at a crossroads and seems to be catching a lot of people on technicalities, on missed tests, but not actual doping. Banning the sprint phenom and hugely popular social media star for having weed in her system is pointless and only hurts the anti-doping effort.
USATF presumably will not name Richardson to the individual sprint team because her individual result from the Trials will be invalidated and they could be sued for not following their rules, but what if all the women behind her who would be in line to replace her declined their spots?
(Update: LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson has started a petition to ask the women’s 100 runners behind Richardson to turn down a spot if offered it if Richardson’s results are invalidated:
Quick Take: It is possible Richardson could still be named to the 4×100 relay team
While Richardson would not be able to contest the individual 100 meters since her Trials results would be invalidated and she did not finish in the top 3, there is a possibility that she could still be named to the US team in the 4x100m relay. USATF is allowed to enter six athletes in the relay pool; four must be the three athletes running the individual 100 meters and the alternate (which would be the top four placers at the Olympic Trials, minus Richardson).
As for the remaining two places, USATF’s selection procedures state that “selection of the two (2) additional athletes will be made by the USATF Head Relay Coach, in consultation and cooperation with the respective 2020 Olympic Games Head Coach or his/her designee, USATF’s Chief of Sport Performance, USATF High Performance Division Chair and one non-competing athlete selected by USATF’s Athletes Advisory Committee who has World Championship and/or Olympic experience in the 4x100m or 4x400m relays.”
That means that USATF has the power to name Richardson to the team if she is eligible to compete by the start of the relay (which begins on August 5). LetsRun has learned that Richardson’s provisional suspension began on June 28; if she is able to complete the treatment program and serve the minimum one-month ban, she would be eligible to compete in the relay.
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More Sha’Carri Richardson coverage
- LRC Sha’Carri Richardson Is the Center of Attention, Runs Wind-Aided 10.64 in Semis, Then Wins Her First US 100m Title in 10.86
- LRC 2021 Miramar Invite Recap: Sha’Carri Richardson Rips 10.72 100 to Move to #6 on All-Time List; Wilson & Holloway Win as Centro & Andrews Struggle
- 2019: MB: One and done: Sha’Carri Richardson goes pro after running NCAA and World jr record of 10.75 in 100
- 2019: LRC 10.75! LSU Freshman Sha’Carri Richardson Arrives As a Star With Insane Collegiate 100m Record