Sha'Carri Richardson Says She Learned from Suspension: 'Big Growing and Touching Experience'

Sha'Carri Richardson was suspended from the Tokyo Olympics last summer after testing positive for marijuana

Sha’Carri Richardson
Photo: Izack Morales

Sha'Carri Richardson is sharing the lessons she's learned after being suspended from the Olympic team ahead of the Tokyo Summer Games following a positive test for marijuana.

Richardson, 21, who tested positive for THC after taking a drug test at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon, in June 2021, opened up to Teen Vogue about the experience months later.

In a profile with the outlet published Wednesday, the sprinter reflected on her suspension from the Olympics, telling Teen Vogue she used self-love to heal from the experience.

"How I show myself forgiveness is honestly by acknowledging it first, acknowledging the situation for what it is, acknowledging my responsibilities in it, and talking about it to the people I feel like it impacted besides myself," she said.

Sha’Carri Richardson
Izack Morales

"When I had the entire situation of being banned from the Tokyo Games, the people who I talked to first were the people who I felt like were with me the most on the journey. I apologized to them first. I felt like they had to hold my shame as well, in a way — or my guilt, in a way," she continued.

Richardson added, "Acknowledging them made me feel like it was okay within myself … and [I] actually allowed myself to feel those emotions. That whole situation was a very big growing and touching experience for me and my community."

The star athlete — whose sprint times have made her one of the fastest women in history — also addressed the change in the public's perception of her after the positive drug test. Although multiple public figures came forward to support her, Richardson also felt others "flip" on her, she said.

"That entire situation taught me to look into myself and to see that I have to be grounded, because do you see how fast they flip?" she said.

"It almost seems like we have to be superheroes," Richardson said, referring to herself and other Black women. "It's just irritating because you take away the abilities, you take away the speed, you take away the talent … and we're still human."

Sha’Carri Richardson
Izack Morales

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Following her suspension from the Summer Olympics, Richardson competed in the 2021 Prefontaine Classic in Oregon, where she raced against three Olympic 100m medalists and finished in ninth place.

Richardson recently questioned why she was suspended from the Olympics while 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was allowed to compete in the 2022 Winter Games despite testing positive for the banned substance Trimetazidine, a heart medication.

"Can we get a solid answer on the difference of her situation and mines [sic]? My mother died and I can't run and was also favored to place top 3. The only difference I see is I'm a black young lady," Richardson tweeted Feb. 14.

The International Olympic Committee responded to Richardson's comments during a Feb. 15 press briefing, when IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said the two incidents could not be compared.

"I would suggest that there isn't a great deal of similarity between the two cases," he said at the time.

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