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Sha’Carri Richardson has been suspended for a month after testing positive for marijuana.
Sha’Carri Richardson will likely not follow up her women’s 100-meter race win with an appearance at the Tokyo Olympics this month, after she tested positive for marijuana.
In a report from the New York Times, Richardson’s results from her 100-meter race win at the U.S. track and field trials in Oregon last month have been invalidated by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) amid the positive test result. The agency also shared that Richardson had accepted a suspension for one month, which means she could still possibly participate in the Olympics’ 4×100 meter relay if she’s named to the U.S. team, although she won’t be able to do the women’s 100.
Richardson shared in an interview with NBC on Friday that the reason she used marijuana was to cope with the death of her biological mother while she was in Oregon for the Olympic trials. She learned of her mother’s death from an interview with a reporter.
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“To hear that information come from a complete stranger, I was definitely triggered and it was definitely nerve-shocking,” she said. “That sent me into a state of emotional panic.”
As the Times noted, “marijuana is banned only during in-competition periods, which are defined as beginning at 11:59 p.m. on the day before a competition and ending at its conclusion.”
An athlete can have up to 150 nanograms of the main psychoactive substance in marijuana (THC) without causing a positive test.
According to the USADA website, the organization prohibits marijuana because it can endanger not only the athlete using it but others, can enhance performance, and is “not consistent with the athlete as a role model for young people around the world.”
However, a 2018 article from the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine titled “Cannabis and the Health and Performance of the Elite Athlete” stated that “there is no direct evidence of performance-enhancing effects in athletes.”
“As early as 1982, it was concluded that cannabis had no ergogenic potential and that ‘the dangers … far outweigh the advantage,’” the article stated.