Sha’carri Richardson cannabis debate


Courtesy of Steph Chambers

The 2021 Tokyo Olympics took place this past summer, where Sha’carri Richardson became one of the most contentious topics. Richardson participated in the use of marijuana, after discovering her biological mother’s passing. This resulted in the disqualification of her track performance at the Olympics. Several individuals claim that Richardson deserved the 30-day suspension, while others say that she did not.

Erinn Gardner, Reporter

Sha’carri Richardson, the fastest American female sprinter, became disqualified from competing in the 100-meter individual event at the Olympics after failing a drug test scanning for marijuana. Richardson’s reason for her marijuana use is rooted in her biological mother’s sudden passing. She received the heartbreaking news from a news reporter, which intensified her grieving process. The U.S.A. Track and Field Team issued a statement expressing their condolences to Richardson and calling for a re-evaluation of anti-doping policies regarding marijuana use. However, the organization stated that modifying the selection procedures to make room for Richardson after the trials would cause damage to their own team.

“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 organization said.

 Numerous Americans sympathize with Richardson. Not thinking about the Olympics when her mother passed, she impulsively made a decision that would affect her future. Richardson’s decision negatively altered her life, however, people cope with things differently. 

“In a sense, her mother’s death does justify her actions. We all grieve in different ways. Does she grieve differently? Yes. But is it wrong for her to grieve in the way that she does? No. Especially if it’s not affecting her performance, then she has the right to do whatever feels best for her” NC magnet junior Allyson Kirksey said. 

While several say that marijuana does not affect performance at all, others claim that it can highly worsen performance. On the other hand, stimulants and enhancers do not include cannabis; therefore, Richardson did not use marijuana as a cheating method. Magnet junior student Brooklyn Bolden stated that the use of marijuana can slow down reaction time while running. 

“I feel like there would’ve been a negative effect because marijuana is known to slow the reaction time, which could have slowed her down. However, it is not going to enhance her performance in any way, so she should’ve been all around disqualified” said Bolden. 

Junior Samerah Slaughter claims that the Cannabis would exit her body by the race, therefore it did not call for a 30-day suspension. The press announced that Richardson tested positive on July 1st, and the Olympics did not occur until July 23rd.  Medical sources state that marijuana does not remain in one’s system unless steadily used. 

“It wouldn’t have negatively impacted her at all because it would have eventually left her system by her next race, so I don’t think anything would’ve happened to her,” said Slaughter. 

Richardson’s unjust disqualification embodies a microaggression towards black female athletes. because Numerous white athletes took enhancers and steroids but still competed. Although US Olympic protocol always consists of a thirty-day suspension, the U.S.A track and field team didn’t consider Richardson’s circumstances. The prejudiced disqualification forced Richardson into a stereotype claiming that black women do drugs. This plasters a poor image of the entire African American community. 

“Many athletes have tested positive on a drug test and it wasn’t broadcasted as much, nor brought to the media. I also believe that since black people are known to be such great runners, they didn’t want to see a black girl win and succeed” said Bolden.