Why Marijuana Could Keep Sha’Carri Richardson Out of the Olympics

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Sha’Carri Richardson, the American track phenomenon widely considered to be a favorite to win the gold medal in the 100-meter dash at the Tokyo Olympics, will no longer be able to compete in the marquee race. The United States Anti-Doping Agency announced on Friday that Richardson tested positive for cannabis, invalidating her 100-meter win in the Olympic trials last month and dashing her chances to compete in the event this summer.

The news is a devastating blow for the U.S. Olympic team, and many have questioned why one of the team’s most charismatic stars will no longer be able to compete in track-and-field’s most prestigious event for something as innocuous as smoking a little weed in Oregon, where – oh, by the way! – the drug is legal.


Here’s what we know about Richardson’s positive test, why cannabis use is prohibited among Olympic athletes, and what happens next:

Who is Sha’Carri Richardson?

Richardson, 21, was primed to be one of the breakout stars of the Tokyo Olympics. She won the 100-meter trials in Oregon last month, and did so with a flair that drew comparisons to the stylish sprinting icon Florence Griffith Joyner, who won 100-meter gold in Seoul in 1988, setting the world record that still stands today.

Richardson logged the sixth-fasted time ever recorded in May when she ran a 10.72 during a meet in Florida. Her hair was dyed blue then. It was dyed orange for he win at the trial in Oregon, where she ran a 10.86. She told reporters that she colors her hair “to make sure that I’m visible and being seen.”

Ryan Bort