No Sympathy for Sha'Carri: Track Star Can't Compete in Tokyo Due to Cannabis Use

Banned track star Sha’Carri Richardson: "Who am I to tell you how to cope?" (image via Flickr)

A puff or two of cannabis was all it took to disqualify Sha'Carri Richardson from running at the Summer Games, which begin July 23.

First, the 21-year-old burgeoning track and field star learned on July 1 she'd failed a drug test for THC and would not be able to compete in the individual events in Tokyo. Now, it's clear she will not be allowed to participate in the relay that takes place after her suspension is lifted. Richardson is not on the team.

On July 6, USA Track and Field (USATF) explained its decision with the following statement: "First and foremost, we are incredibly sympathetic toward Sha'Carri Richardson's extenuating circumstances and strongly applaud her accountability - and will offer her our continued support both on and off the track... All USATF athletes are equally aware of and must adhere to the current anti-doping code, and our credibility as the national governing body would be lost if rules were only enforced under certain circumstances So, while our heartfelt understanding lies with Sha’Carri, 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.”

USATF: "While our heartfelt understanding lies with Sha’Carri, we must also maintain fairness for all of the athletes."

After learning about her mother's death at the Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon on June 19, where she ran  a phenomenal 10.86 in the 100-meters race, Richardson used cannabis. "Who am I to tell you how to cope?" she said on July 2. "I'm not encouraging anybody to do it. I'm not saying, Oh, don't do it. If you choose to do things in your personal time, beware of the consequences or just find different ways to cope. Don't judge me because I'm human. I just run a little faster."

USATF's call follows President Biden's comment on July 4, which was similar in tone: "Whether they should remain the rules is a different issue, but the rules are the rules."

Despite a public outcry, Richardson will stay home rather than compete with Team USA. Four other runners have also been disqualified, but Richardson is the only one for cannabis. The World and U.S. Anti-Doping Agencies still consider it a performance-enhancer.


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.