And yet they did it anyway. A shame.
Sha’Carri Richardson recently ran into the hearts of Americans everywhere, particularly Black women, thanks to her slayed hair, Flo-Jo-style nails, and “I got this” attitude that resonates with so many others. Now the gold medal-favorite in the Women’s 100, who clocked at 10.86 seconds, may potentially miss out on an opportunity of a lifetime, thanks to a plant that is legal in 34 states and D.C., not to mention a source of healing in many parts of the world – including Tokyo, historically. The United States Anti-Doping Agency knows this already, which is why Sha’Carri’s ban is so short. The minimum ban is usually at least two years. WADA spokesperson James Fitzgerald even said drugs like cannabis, heroin, and ecstasy although labeled “substances of abuse” are “often unrelated to sports performance.” Err, duh?
Nevertheless, Sha’Carri recently explained why she chose to spark up, knowing it was not allowed.
In her interview with Today, Sha’Carri asks people to not judge her because she’s human. Seconds before her explosive race, Sha’Carri received word from a reporter that her biological mother passed away. The 21-year-old may be benched for now, but she still has a chance to compete in the July 27th relay, however her reason for smoking shouldn’t be this punishable an offense. THC is not a performance enhancing drug, nor is there any evidence that she used steroids. While marijuana is legal in Oregon where the trials were held, the World Anti-Doping Agency has a set of their own rules, and lists a bunch of drugs together that are prohibited. Since Sha’Carri is part of the USASDA, a subdivision, she saw leniency with just a one-month ban, meaning she still has a chance to run in Tokyo.
Cannabis, marijuana, and hashish are Specified Substances in the class of Cannabinoids and are prohibited in competition under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, and although CBD is allowed, research shows THC and CBG also have healing, anti-inflammatory properties. In Tokyo, where the Olympics are taking place, weed is not illegal to consume due to the country’s complicated history with the plant. If you ask their government, the slogan is dame zettai or “Absolutely not “when it comes to the herb, but the plant has so much popularity that Japan is creating a panel to deal with it. They are even considering relaxing the ban on medical marijuana.
As devastating as it is, it’s not surprising this news came a week after the world celebrated her win. Sha’Carri isn’t the only female Black Olympian pick whose dreams have been taken away from them. Nambian athletes Christine Mbomba and Beatrice Masilingi were also withdrawn from the 400m Tokyo Olympics, not for marijuana, but for their natural testosterone levels. You read that right. Other Black African athletes saw the same penalty when they refused to take birth control to lower the levels they were born with. A very different response than Michael Phelps received, when he was deemed “extraordinary” for his abnormally large feet advantage. Sounds about white.
Sha’Carri is young and maintains “everything I do comes to me naturally,” so we will see her blazing the track again. While the rules are the rules, this situation does make a case to why self-medicating through cannabis should be reevaluated.