Sha'Carri Richardson Not Named on Relay Team for Tokyo Olympics After Positive Marijuana Test
"While our heartfelt understanding lies with Sha'Carri, we must also maintain fairness for all of the athletes who attempted to realize their dreams" of being on the Olympic team, officials said
Sha'Carri Richardson will not be heading to Tokyo.
On Tuesday, USA Track and Field announced the official roster for the Summer Games, and the 21-year-old sprinter was not named for the women's 4x100m relay race — the only event she could've competed in after she tested positive for THC, which is the chemical in marijuana, at the trials in Oregon on June 19.
Richardson, whose trials result of 10.86 seconds in the women's 100m race was disqualified due to her failed drug test, 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 U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said in a previous statement. "Beyond the one-month sanction, athlete eligibility for the Tokyo Games is determined by the USOPC and/or USA Track & Field eligibility rules."
However, on Tuesday, USATF released a statement regarding Richardson and their decision not to include her on the roster for Tokyo.
"First and foremost, we are incredibly sympathetic toward Sha'Carri Richardson's extenuating circumstances and strongly applaud her accountability - and will offer her our continued support both on and off the track. While USATF fully agrees that the merit of the World Anti-Doping Agency rules related to THC should be reevaluated, it would be detrimental to the integrity of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track & Field if USATF amended its policies following competition, only weeks before the Olympic Games," the statement said. "All USATF athletes are equally aware of and must adhere to the current anti-doping code, and our credibility as the National Governing Body would be lost if rules were only enforced under certain circumstances."
The statement also read, "So while our heartfelt understanding lies with Sha'Carri, we must also maintain fairness for all of the athletes who attempted to realize their dreams by securing a place on the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team."
A rep for Richardson did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
The top three athletes in the trials event head to the Olympics. And for the relay team, USATF officials are able to pick at least two athletes regardless of their performance at the trials.
Richardson's suspension would have ended prior to the relay so she could've still competed for Team USA had track officials named her on the team.
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On July 1, which was the same day news of her drug test became public, she tweeted, "I am human."
And the next morning, on July 2, Richardson spoke about her suspension on the Today show, telling co-host Savannah Guthrie: "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."
The sprinter admitted to using marijuana to cope with the death of her biological mother, who died the week before the track trials.
"People don't understand what it's like to have to — alright, people do. We all have our different struggles. We all have our different things we deal with," said Richardson, adding of her experience, "But 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?"
Richardson also described the "pressure" of showing up on the track with high expectations and being in a "state of emotional panic" after learning of her biological mother's death. Recalling how she felt "blinded by emotions" and "sadness" while still having to compete at an Olympic level, the athlete said, "I was trying to hide my pain."
Marijuana is considered a banned substance by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and USATF. According to WADA, cannabis "poses a health risk to athletes, has the potential to enhance performance and violates the spirit of sport." (Recreational cannabis use and possession are legal in Oregon, where Richardson tested positive.)
To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. The Tokyo Olympics begin July 23rd on NBC.