Sha'Carri Richardson Says 'I Am Human' Amid Suspension from Olympic Team for Positive Marijuana Test
Sha'Carri Richardson was touted as one of Team USA's gold medal contenders after winning the women's 100m race at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials
Sha'Carri Richardson's Tokyo dreams are in question.
The sprinter, 21, has tested positive for marijuana, the New York Times reported. Her lawyer confirmed to NBC News that she has been suspended from the Olympic team after testing positive for THC, which is the chemical in marijuana.
Richardson 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) confirmed in a statement.
"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," said USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart.
A rep for Richardson did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
On Thursday, Richardson seemingly alluded to her suspension, tweeting, "I am human."
According to USADA's statement, Richardson accepted a one-month suspension and the date of her provisional suspension began on June 28. "Richardson's period of ineligibility was reduced to one month because her use of cannabis occurred out of competition and was unrelated to sport performance, and because she successfully completed a counseling program regarding her use of cannabis," the organization said. "Beyond the one-month sanction, athlete eligibility for the Tokyo Games is determined by the USOPC and/or USA Track & Field eligibility rules."
Marijuana is considered a banned substance by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and USA Track & Field. Recreational cannabis use and possession are legal in Oregon, where Richardson tested positive.
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According to WADA, cannabis "poses a health risk to athletes, has the potential to enhance performance and violates the spirit of sport."
Classified as a "substance of abuse" by the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code, cannabis carries a maximum four-year ban, but if proven to have been "unrelated to sport performance," the ban could possibly be reduced to a maximum of three months. If an athlete completes a substance of abuse treatment program, the ban could be further reduced to only one month. (The first Olympic round of the women's 100m is set for July 30.)
NBC reported that Richardson will be prohibited from competing in the 100m.
At trials, Richardson secured her spot on Team USA after clocking in at 10.86 seconds during the women's 100m race, just 0.37 seconds behind the world record held by the late three-time Olympic gold medalist Florence Griffith Joyner.
Her result at the trials has been disqualified.
Known for her colorful hairstyles, the athlete from Dallas, Texas, quickly became a gold medal contender following her performance. Richardson, whose biological mother died the week prior, also went viral for embracing her grandmother immediately after winning the women's 100m race and punching her ticket to Tokyo.
Richardson started track at a young age and went on to be a standout athlete at Carter High School before attending Louisiana State University, where she won the 2019 NCAA title in a college-record 10.75 seconds as well as SEC freshman track athlete of the year and the 2019 Bowerman award, the highest individual honor in collegiate track and field.
In June 2019, Richardson announced the end of her collegiate career at LSU to pursue a professional career.
Shortly after, Richardson teamed up with her coach and three-time Olympic medalist Dennis Mitchell, who tested positive for banned testosterone in 1998. (He later served a two-year ban.)
In an August 2020 interview with TeamUSA.org, Richardson called training with Mitchell "one of the best decisions I've made in my life," adding, "I love that he's a coach that's going to make sure you're the athlete you tell him you want to be, on and off the track. I'm glad I came. It's a great environment for training."
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Then this May, while competing in the U.K., Richardson spoke about Mitchell's doping past to local outlets. "We had a conversation before he started training me and he was transparent with me. I know from the relationship we have that he will never put me in a position to be in something like that. Y'all don't have to worry about any doping situations," she said, according to The Times.
"What we do in training is through the roof. I would back my coach, Dennis Mitchell, 100 percent, 1000 percent. We were very transparent with each other I know I will never be in that situation. I trust him 100 percent. And I'm a very transparent person when it comes to my athletic abilities. And I know my training," Richardson continued. "People who ask the questions don't know what goes on in my training. They just believe what they read on the internet. So I'm not worried about my reputation. I know what I do and what I need to do and I know that these men [Mitchell and training partner Justin Gatlin] will never put me in a position that I need to worry about my reputation. If anything, they make me more mindful to be aware of my reputation myself."
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Gatlin, remembered as a one-time doper and five-time Olympic medalist, tested positive for a steroid in 2006 and was suspended for eight years. (His sentence was reduced to four years after he worked with federal investigators.)
Second behind Richardson in the 100m event at trials was Javianne Oliver with 10.99 seconds and third was Teahna Daniels with 11.03 seconds. Both Oliver and Daniels qualified for Tokyo.
Fourth in 100m event was Jenna Prandini who finished with 11.11 seconds. Prandini, who will now replace Richardson, qualified for Tokyo in the 200m after placing second.
To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. The Tokyo Olympics begin July 23rd on NBC.