American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson will not be able to participate in the 100-meter event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The 21-year-old standout, who was expected to contend for a gold medal, tested positive for marijuana at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June. On Friday, Richardson accepted a one-month ban, retroactive to June 28, for failing the test.
“I want to take responsibility for my actions,” Richardson told NBC on Friday. “I know what I did. I know what I’m supposed to do and am allowed not to do, and I still made that decision. I’m not making an excuse. I’m not looking for any empathy in my case.”
According to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)’s rules on the matter, an athlete who tests positive for marijuana — or anything else they consider a “substance of abuse” — will receive a three-month sanction as long as it was “unrelated to sport performance.”
Furthermore, the USADA states that if the athlete undergoes a treatment program, which Richardson did, that sanction can but cut down to one month.
Richardson admitted to NBC on Friday that she used marijuana in Oregon, a state in which the substance is legal, after the death of her biological mother. That happened just hours before the Olympic Trials kicked off.
“That sent me in a state of mind, in a state of emotional panic, if anything,” she said. “During all that, I still, even though I’m here, I still have to go out and put on a performance for my dream.”
While Richardson is out of the 100-meter — despite her suspension being up before the event takes place in Tokyo — it is still not clear if she will participate in the 4×100-meter relay. That decision is solely up to USA Track and Field, which released the following statement on Friday morning.
“Richardson’s situation is incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved. Athlete health and well-being continue to be one of USATF’s most critical priorities and we will work with Sha’Carri to ensure she has ample resources to overcome any mental health challenges now and in the future,” USA Track and Field said.
As for Richardson’s chances of competing in the relay, she said “right now, I’m just putting all of time and energy into dealing with what I need to do with myself. If I’m allowed to receive that blessing, then I’m grateful for it. But if not, right now, I’m really just focused on myself.”
The Olympics will run from July 23 to Aug. 8 after being postponed from the summer of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.