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Sha'Carri Richardson Accepts 1-Month Ban for Positive Drug Test Ahead of Olympics

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 2, 2021

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The United States Anti-Doping Agency announced Friday that American sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson, who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in the women's 100 meters before testing positive for marijuana in a post-race drug test, has accepted a one-month ban.

"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," USADA CEO Travis Tygart said.

The ban makes Richardson ineligible for the 100 meters, but she would be able to run in the 4x100-meter relay. Her suspension will have expired by the day of the race, per Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.

Eddie Pells and Pat Graham of the Associated Press reported USA Track & Field hasn't yet announced plans for the relay squad.

Richardson won the women's 100-meter qualifier at the U.S. Olympic trials on June 19 with a time of 10.86 seconds. Javianne Oliver (10.99) finished second and Teahna Daniels (11.03) came in third.

The 21-year-old Dallas native's victory was voided because of the positive drug test for THC, the main active compound in marijuana, which removed her from Team USA's preliminary Olympics roster. She had the option to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport before accepting the ban Friday.

Jenna Prandini, who finished fourth in the qualifier, is expected to take the open spot in the 100 meters, according to the AP.

Meanwhile, Richardson appeared on NBC's Today on Friday to discuss the situation. She accepted responsibility for the failed drug test and said it was a coping mechanism following the recent death of her biological mother.

TODAY @TODAYshow

Sha’Carri Richardson (<a href="https://twitter.com/itskerrii?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@itskerrii</a>) joins us live for an exclusive interview to discuss the positive marijuana test that’s put her Olympic future in limbo. <a href="https://t.co/iVBp3zhvja">pic.twitter.com/iVBp3zhvja</a>

TODAY @TODAYshow

“Don’t judge me, because I am human… I just happen to run a little faster.”<br><br>Sha’Carri Richardson (<a href="https://twitter.com/itskerrii?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@itskerrii</a>) speaks with <a href="https://twitter.com/SavannahGuthrie?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SavannahGuthrie</a> about her failed drug test. <a href="https://t.co/aZKTDhYn6Z">pic.twitter.com/aZKTDhYn6Z</a>

"I was definitely triggered and blinded by emotions, blinded by badness, and hurting, and hiding hurt," Richardson told Today. "I know I can't hide myself, so in some type of way, I was trying to hide my pain."

Although marijuana is legal for recreational use in Oregon, where the U.S. Olympic trials took place, it remains a banned "Substance of Abuse" based on World Anti-Doping Code.

The USADA announcement noted the typical punishment for a positive THC test is a three-month ban, but Richardson's was reduced to one month because she completed a program regarding cannabis and because her use occurred "out of competition and was unrelated to sport performance."

Her suspension went into effect June 28.

Preliminary heats for the women's 4x100-meter relay at the Olympics are scheduled to take place Aug. 5 followed by the finals on Aug. 6.

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