USADA Claims it Is Powerless to Reverse Sha’Carri Richardson’s Suspension

Sha'Carri Richardson
AP Photo/Ashley Landis

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) says they have no authority to change the one-month suspension of U.S. Olympic runner Sha’Carri Richardson, because that power resides with the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Richardson was suspended earlier this month after she tested positive for THC, the main active ingredient found in marijuana. The resulting one-month suspension meant that Richardson would not be able to participate in the 100-mter race, the event she was projected by many to win at the Tokyo Olympics. Earlier this week, it was learned that Richardson had been left off the roster for the 4×100 relay, effectively ending her chances of participating in the Olympics.

USADA explained their position in response to a letter sent from U.S. Representatives Jamie Raskin (D, MD) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D, NY). The USADA’s response, sent and signed by USADA CEO Travis Tygart, stresses that Richardson received the bare minimum discipline and that any lesser punishment could have brought with it far-reaching consequences for other U.S. athletes.

Perhaps most importantly, the letter clearly states that the rules in place were made by the WADA and USADA is bound to follow them.

In their letter, Raskin and Ocasio-Cortez charged USADA with “antiquated prohibition.”

“Anti-marijuana laws have a particularly ugly history of systemic racism. We call on WADA and USADA to reconsider restrictions on recreational marijuana use and any current suspensions that are in place on that basis,” the letter states.

The response letter from USADA also claimed that they would not have suspended Richardson had they had jurisdiction in the case.

Still, USADA claims they will continue to fight for rule changes that may prevent “tragic” situations like what happened to Richardson.

“To her credit, Ms. Richardson acknowledged that she knew the risk of using marijuana, and chose to use it anyway, before competing in the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials,” USADA wrote.

“USADA will continue to advocate for rule changes which would better address tragic situations like Ms. Richardson’s,” the letter said.


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