Sha'Carri Richardson's Olympic Suspension: Celebs, Athletes, Politicians Show Sprinter Support
Sha’Carri is suspended from the U.S. Olympic track and field team for one month starting June 28 after she tested positive for THC
An outpouring of support was given to Sha'Carri Richardson after she was suspended from the U.S. Olympic team on Friday after testing positive for THC.
Fellow athletes, celebrities, and politicians joined a chorus of supporters on Friday for the 21-year-old sprinter, who was an early breakout star of the trials leading up to the Olympics.
News of her month-long suspension made headlines earlier in the day. Richardson had failed the drug test at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon, on June 19, the day of her victory in the women's 100m, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said in a statement.
"The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking on many levels," said USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart. "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."
On Thursday, Richardson seemingly alluded to her suspension, tweeting, "I am human."
That line was echoed by many of Richardson's famous supporters, including Dwyane Wade, who reposted the comment and also tweeted, "I am human "
The former Miami Heat star wrote in another tweet, "But majority of y'all rule makers smoke and probably are investors in THC companies. Let's stop playing these games."
Odell Beckham Jr. replied to Richardson's tweet, writing, "This is bull Shxt……tbh."
National Women's Soccer League Sydney Leroux expressed her empathy to the 21-year-old sprinter who found out about her biological mother's death from a reporter moments before an Olympic trial race.
"I feel for @itskerrii. We need to look at what athletes are being given to deal with the mental and physical demands of their sport. If Xanax and opioids are legal, then marijuana should be too," Leroux wrote.
"I don't know why marijuana is banned. Maybe a good reason. Maybe not. I know how it feels to lose a parent. Indescribable pain!" former Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson said. "I'm from the same neighborhood as @itskerrii Tough place! I wish people would stop calling her and this ban stupid unless you know the reason for both."
WNBA star Sue Bird called the THC ban "outdated."
"Let Sha'Carri run. We all know THC being banned in competition has been outdated forEVERRRR! The crazy part is, it's only recent that it's a 1 month ban. It used to be for years. PLURAL!!! Same punishment as steroids, etc. This needs to change. Now," she tweeted.
Gus Kenworthy weighed in writing, "marijuana is NOT a performance enhancing drug."
Fellow former Olympian Adam Rippon also called the THC policy "outdated" and expressed his hurt for Richardson.
"My heart is broken for @itskerrii. I think she is an amazing athlete and her personality is superstar level. Marijuana being a banned substance in competition seems… outdated???? And unfair," he tweeted.
Hollywood stars threw their support behind Richardson, too.
Seth Rogen said the disdain for marijuana is "rooted in racism" and "rooted in hatred.
"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. It's something they should be ashamed of," the actor and cannabis entrepreneur wrote. He jokingly added, "Also if weed made you fast, I'd be FloJo."
Billy Porter tweeted, "I stand with Sha'Carri!"
Queer Eye's Jonathan Van Ness expressed anger, writing, "To punish this incredible athlete for cannabis?? This prohibition has f—ked up so many peoples lives I just can't even. We love you @itskerrii."
Several figures in the political world also weighed in.
"Here's what needs to happen: 1. Let Sha'Carri run. 2. Legalize cannabis. 3. Decriminalize all drugs.," Rep. Cori Bush tweeted.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman referred to Richardson's Today interview on Friday where she took responsibility for her choice and apologized to those who she disappointed.
"There is no need for Sha'Carri to apologize. We need to get rid of archaic rules for a substance that is fully legal in 19 states plus DC. And we need to legalize it at the federal level," Bowman tweeted.
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich criticized the ban amid the growing cannabis weed industry.
"So let me get this straight: the cannabis industry is projected to rake in $70 billion by 2028, but thousands of people are behind bars for cannabis charges, and Sha'Carri Richardson is suspended from the Olympics for using it?" he questioned.
Rep. Omari Hardy similarly added, "Marijuana laws are about control. USADA rules about marijuana use are about control & about preserving opportunities to humble Black athletes. There's no need for Sha'Carri to apologize. She has nothing to apologize for. Apologizing legitimizes the illegitimate."
"Amazing how fast y'all turned on Sha'Carri. Except it's not amazing. It's expected," activist Brittany Packnett Cunningham tweeted.
"Keep your head up ," Rep. Ilhan Omar encouraged Richardson. https://twitter.com/IlhanMN/status/1410978147143663625
Richardson spoke to Today's Savannah Guthrie on Friday, telling the anchor, "I know what I did. I know what I'm supposed to do and what I'm allowed not to do, and I still made that decision. But I'm not making an excuse or looking for any empathy in my case."
She went on to reveal a reporter had told her moments before a race at the Olympic trials that her biological mother had died.
"To put on a face, to have to go in front of the world and put on a face and hide my pain, I don't know ... Who am I to tell you how to cope when you're dealing with pain? Or you're dealing with a struggle that you've never experienced before? Or that you never thought you'd have to deal with?" the athlete expressed.
She added, "I would like to say to my friends, my family, my sponsorship, to the haters too: I apologize. As much as I'm disappointed, I know that when I step on the track I don't represent myself, I represent a community that has shown me great support, great love."
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Richardson's ban began on June 28 and will last one month. The Olympic Games kick off in Tokyo on July 23.
Although Richardson's chances at Tokyo are in limbo, she still has her eyes set on gold.
"This is just one Games. I'm 21, I'm very young. Unlike most, I have plenty of Games left in me to compete in, and I have plenty of talent that backs me up, because everything I do comes from me naturally," the Dallas, Texas native said on Today. "No steroid, no anything, just this incident was about marijuana. After my sanction is up, I'll be back and able to compete."