People are raging about Sha’Carri Richardson’s suspension. After the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced that Richardson is suspended from the Olympic team for one month after testing positive for THC, one of the chemicals in marijuana, on Friday, July 2, MoveOn Civic Action created a petition to let Sha’Carri Richardson run in the Olympics. The suspension prevents Sha’Carri from running in the Olympics for her signature 100-meter dash, among other devastating losses.
The MoveOn Civic Action petition’s aim is to reinstate Richardson, allowing her to compete in her strongest race, the 100-meter dash. It continues to ask that the Olympics and USADA review the “outdated rules around marijuana and athletes.” Arguing that marijuana is not “a performance-enhancing drug for runners,” the petition also points out that marijuana use is legal in many states. “There are many reasons to have rules against performance-enhancing drugs, but this one is absurd,” the petition argues.
The petition also brings up racial disparity in punishments relating to drug laws. “The imposition of a penalty against a world-class Black, queer, woman athlete is powerfully and infuriatingly reminiscent of the way drug laws are regularly applied in the United States,” it begins. “Recreational marijuana use has been de facto legal for upper-middle-class white people for years — something more states are recognizing as they legalize marijuana for all people and consider how to repair the damage done to Black and brown communities by decades of the ‘war on drugs,’” the petition continues. When Richardson used marijuana, she was in Oregon, where recreational has been legal since July 2016.
As of publication on Saturday, July 3, the petition to reinstate Sha’Carri has over 200,000 signatures.
For a refresher, the track and field portion of the Summer Olympics will officially begin on Friday, July 30. Richardson’s acceptance of her one-month suspension, which began on June 28, means her Olympic trials results are automatically disqualified, she’s forfeited any points, prizes, and medals, and she won’t get to run her signature 100-meter race. She had a huge victory in the 100-meter at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon on June 19.
In the July 2 press release from the USADA, the CEO Travis T. Tygart’s statement addressed the issue. “The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking on many levels,” said Tygart.
Because Richardson’s use of cannabis was outside of competition, sport performance, and she’s undergone a counseling program, she received the minimum one-month suspension. It’s still unclear if Richardson will be allowed to compete in the Olympics after her suspension is up, but the USADA pointed out, “beyond the one-month sanction, athlete eligibility for the Tokyo Games is determined by the USOPC and/or USA Track & Field eligibility rules.”
Richardson spoke about the suspension on July 2’s episode of the TODAY show, admitting one reason she used marijuana was the death of her biological mother, which she found out about through a reporter’s interview. “I was just thinking it would be a normal interview and then on the interview, to hear that information come from a complete stranger, it was definitely triggering, it was nerve shocking because it's like who are you to tell me that?” she said. "From there just blinded by emotions, blinded by bad news, blinded by just hiding hurt, honestly for the fact that I can't hide myself, so at least in some type of way, I was trying to hide my pain,” she said.
To support Richardson, sign the petition by filling out your info in hopes the USADA changes its ruling in time for the Summer Olympics.