America’s fastest woman, Sha’Carri Richardson, won’t be able to compete in her signature event at the Tokyo Olympics because she failed a drug test. Appearing on Friday’s Today show, the 21 year-old fire-emoji sprinter confirmed that she tested positive for THC, a chemical found in marijuana, after jubilantly winning her 100-meter dash at the Olympic trials final on June 20. She was automatically disqualified from the race when she tested positive; as a result, she won’t be allowed to compete in the dash, commonly referred to as the “world’s fastest woman” race, in Tokyo. “I want to take responsibility for my actions,” Richardson told Today. “I know what I did. I know what I’m supposed to do, I’m allowed not to do, and I still made that decision. I’m not making any excuse or looking for any empathy. Don’t judge me because I’m human.” She has been suspended by Team USA for 30 days, which took effect on June 28.
Richardson, who stressed that there “will never be a steroid attached” to her name, said she turned to marijuana after the “triggering and shocking” death of her biological mother. The death, which Richardson found out about from a reporter, put her in a “state of an emotional panic” in the aftermath of the news. “From there I was 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. “As much as I’m disappointed, I know that when I step on the track I represent not only myself, I represent a community that has shown great support, great love … I apologize for the fact that I didn’t know how to control my emotions or deal with my emotions during that time.” She added, for her fans, “Don’t judge me. I’m human, I’m you. I just run a little faster.”
Due to the length of her 30-day suspension, there’s still a chance, albeit a small one, that Richardson will still be able to compete in the women’s 4x100-meter relay at the Olympics alongside her fastest Team USA teammates. The New York Times reports that the relay decision would be up to USA Track & Field, the national governing body of the sport. In a statement, the organization said that Richardson’s failed drug test is “incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved.”
In the aftermath of Richardson’s Today interview, several prominent athletes and celebrities have tweeted support for the sprinter; they also condemned USA Track & Field for implementing the THC ban. “The notion that weed is a problematic ‘drug’ is rooted in racism. It’s insane that Team USA would disqualify one of this country’s most talented athletes over thinking that’s rooted in hatred,” Seth Rogen, noted stoner, wrote. “It’s something they should be ashamed of. Also if weed made you fast, I’d be FloJo.” Megan Rapinoe, the decorated soccer player, wrote: “This is trash. This has been outdated.” Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes also agreed that the decision was “so trash.” Read on for other responses.
This article has been updated with social media statements in support of Richardson.