Sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson will miss the 100m race at the Tokyo Olympics later this month after testing positive for marijuana.
“I apologize,” Richardson said on NBC’s “Today” show. “As much as I’m disappointed I know that when I step on the track I represent not only myself, I represent a community that has shown great support, great love … I apologize for the fact that I didn’t know how to control my emotions or deal with my emotions during that time.”
Richardson, who made history at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene last month, accepted a one-month suspension from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, vacating her records, medals and prizes in the process.
“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,” USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said in a statement.
Richardson tested positive at the Olympic trials last month after winning the women’s 100m final in 10.86 seconds. Her semi-final race saw her run a 10.64 in the race, the second-fastest by an American sprinter and fastest since Florence Griffith-Joyner.
The track star from Dallas explained she smoked marijuana to help cope with her biological mother’s death last month.
“We all have our different struggles, we all have our different things we deal with, but to put on a face and have to go out in front of the world and put on a face and hide my pain,” Richardson said. “Who are you? Who am I to tell you how to cope when you’re dealing with a 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. Who am I to tell you how to cope? Who am I to tell you you’re wrong for hurting?”
Richardson was poised to become the first American sprinter since Gail Devers in 1996 to claim the gold in the 100m race, one of the signature events at the Olympics. Richardson’s suspension, however, still could allow her to compete in Tokyo in the 4×100 meters if she’s selected by USATAF.
“If I’m allowed to receive that blessing [compete in Tokyo] then I’m grateful for it,” Richardson said. “But if not, right now I’m just going to focus on myself.”
Regardless of the failed test and her inability to compete in her signature event, Richardson says this isn’t the end of her Olympic dreams.
“This is just one Games. I’m 21, I’m very young. … I have plenty of Games left in me to compete in and I have plenty of talent that backs me up, because everything I do comes from me naturally. No steroid, no anything,” she said. “This incident was about marijuana, so after my sanction is up I’ll be back and able to compete, and every single time I step on the track I’ll be ready for whatever anti-doping agency to come and get what it is that they need.”
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