The punishment does not match the crime of the track star

She could have – done it should have – been a star in an Olympics desperate for any kind of positive jerk. Sha’Carri Richardson has the look and she has the merchandise, and it was not out of the question to imagine her walking around Tokyo with a pair of gold medals draped around her neck.

That this does not happen is as much Richardson’s fault as it is the application of the obscure doping rules. A few puffs of marijuana wouldn’t have helped her win the 100-meter race at the Tokyo Olympics, but it was enough to get her fired from the U.S. team before she was even officially named.

Was it fair? The answer probably depends on the lens you look at when discussing marijuana use. In Richardson’s case, that also involves considering the state of mind of a 21-year-old who had just lost her birth mother and was on the verge of yet another landmark event at the Olympics.

Obviously, she couldn’t have chosen a worse time to smoke weed. The idea that it would put so much in jeopardy for so little at best makes our heads shake – no matter what one thinks about the fact that marijuana is still on the banned list on the Olympic stage.

Yet the price Richardson will end up paying will turn out to be disproportionate for doing what millions of Americans do legally every day. Richardson’s only crime is breaking anti-doping rules which have nothing to do with maintaining the integrity of his sport.

It means no gold medals. No prime-time TV appearances, and no sponsorship deals grossing millions of dollars.

Forget about getting on a Wheaties box. Richardson won’t even make it to the start of these Games, and she will have three long years to wait before having another Olympics.

His fate is as sad as it was preventable. No one comes out on top, and an Olympic Games that are already shaping up to be a joyless exercise under a state of emergency in Japan will miss the flamboyance of an American who loves to run with long fingernails and flowing orange hair. .

He drew attention to the highest places, the White House even taking note.

“It stinks,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN. “I don’t think there is a better definition of it.”

Psaki then suggested that the rules – which had already been relaxed several years ago – needed to be changed even more to reflect the world’s change in attitude towards marijuana.

Coincidentally, they were in Nevada on Wednesday when the Nevada Athletic Commission voted to continue testing boxers and MMA fighters for marijuana, but did not punish them in any way for using a drug legal in the state. Nevada has long been the leader in rule-making for combat sports, making it likely that other states will follow suit.

“Marijuana is considered a substance of abuse, not a performance enhancing drug,” said Bob Bennett, executive director of the commission. “I think our goal is to test performance enhancing drugs to make sure the playing field is level.”

Unfortunately for Richardson, things don’t go so fast in the anti-doping world. And while his suspension is only 30 days, that period includes the days the 100 will be held in Tokyo.

Any chance that she might have been added to the US 400 relay team – whose post-suspension races will be over – was erased on Tuesday when USA Track & Field released a roster that did not include the sprinter. Putting her on the relay team seemed like a logical compromise, but it would have meant taking away another runner who had already been promised a berth at the Olympics.

The reaction of the runner herself was almost lost in the outcry over Richardson’s suspension. She has shown remarkable grace beyond her years, appearing on NBC’s “Today” show not to claim that she should be put on the team, but to explain that her recent death. mother combined with the pressure to prepare for trials led her to use the drug on eve of winning the 100 at the Olympic trials last month in Oregon.

If she’d had a glass of wine instead, she’d be packing her bags for Tokyo. It’s an irony that hasn’t escaped marijuana advocates, although Richardson has indicated it’s already moving on.

“All these perfect people who know how to live life, I’m glad I’m not one of them!” she tweeted later, adding “2022-2025 undefeated!”

Sha’Carri Richardson celebrates after winning the women’s 100 meters with her grandmother Betty Harp at the United States Olympic Track and Field Trials on Saturday, June 19, 2021 in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Sha'Carri Richardson salutes after winning the women's 100-meter at the United States Olympic Track and Field Trials on Saturday, June 19, 2021 in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Sha’Carri Richardson salutes after winning the women’s 100-meter at the United States Olympic Track and Field Trials on Saturday, June 19, 2021 in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Sha'Carri Richardson celebrates after winning the women's 100-meter at the United States Olympic Track and Field Trials on Saturday, June 19, 2021 in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Sha’Carri Richardson celebrates after winning the women’s 100-meter at the United States Olympic Track and Field Trials on Saturday, June 19, 2021 in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Sha'Carri Richardson celebrates after winning the women's 100-meter at the United States Olympic Track and Field Trials on Saturday, June 19, 2021 in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo / Charlie Riedel)

Sha’Carri Richardson celebrates after winning the women’s 100-meter at the United States Olympic Track and Field Trials on Saturday, June 19, 2021 in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo / Charlie Riedel)

Sha'Carri Richardson celebrates after winning the fourth round in the women's 100-meter at the US Olympic Track and Field Trials on Friday, June 18, 2021 in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Sha’Carri Richardson celebrates after winning the fourth round in the women’s 100-meter at the US Olympic Track and Field Trials on Friday, June 18, 2021 in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)


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