US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson has received a one-month ban after testing positive for marijuana – and is set to miss the Tokyo Olympics. The 21-year-old won the 100m at the US Olympic trials in Oregon in June and earlier this year ran the sixth-fastest time in history. But the Texan’s positive test means her qualification result has been expunged.
The athlete’s positive test came at the Olympic trials event, where she finished well clear of the field in 10.86secs. The trials came just a week after the death of her biological mother, and Richardson explained she had used cannabis as a way of coping. Richardson had become the sixth-fastest woman ever at the distance with a time of 10.72sec at a Florida meet in April and was seen as a contender to become the first American woman to win Olympic 100m gold since Gail Devers in 1996. As Richardson was giving her interview, the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) announced she had accepted the suspension for what it said was “a substance of abuse” rather than for enhancing performance. The ban runs from the date of her provisional suspension, 28 June. When asked whether she still hoped to take part in the Games, Richardson said she would focus on herself, and suggested she would not be competing in Tokyo.
Richardson might be able to participate in the 4x100m relay, but that would require her to be selected for the squad by USA Track and Field and approved by the US Olympic Committee. Richardson also became the latest athlete to talk about the mental struggles of trying to be a world-class performer while hiding pain from the public.