Star sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson has been suspended for one month after testing positive for marijuana, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced Friday, putting her participation in the Tokyo Olympics in doubt.
Shortly before the decision was announced, the 21-year-old Richardson took responsibility during an interview on “Today.”
“I know what I did. I know what I’m supposed to do … and I still made that decision,” she said.
Richardson said she didn’t want to make any excuses, but explained she used marijuana to help cope after learning from a reporter about her biological mother’s death during the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon. The use of recreational marijuana is legal in the state of Oregon, but banned from from her sport.
“That sent me in a state of emotional panic, if anything…even though, I’m here, I still have to go out to put a performance for my dream,” she said.
Richardson won’t be able to run in her signature race, the 100-meter dash, in Tokyo, but she could potentially compete in the 100-meter relay. During the interview, she said she would be grateful for the opportunity, but her focus is on healing herself. She also apologized to fans and asked for their understanding.
“Don’t judge me, because I am human, I’m you, I just happen to run a little faster,” she said.
Richardson gained national attention after coming in first in the women’s 100 meters final on June 19, qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics.
The USADA said the results from the race have been disqualified and Richardson has to forfeit any medals, points and prizes from the team trials. The organization said Richardson accepted the penalty that began on June 28.
“The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking on many levels; hopefully, her acceptance of responsibility and apology will be an important example to us all that we can successfully overcome our regrettable decisions, despite the costly consequences of this one to her,” said USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart.
The USADA said her eligibility for the Tokyo Olympics will be determined by the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and/or USA Track & Field eligibility rules. The USOPC said in a statement that they’re “heartbroken.”
“A positive test for any banned substance comes with consequences and we are working with USATF to determine the appropriate next steps. We are dedicated to providing Sha’Carri the support services she needs during this difficult time,” the organization said.