American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, a medal favorite in the 100-meter dash at the upcoming Olympics, failed a drug test and likely won't be able to run at the Tokyo Games, according to multiple reports Thursday night.
Richardson reportedly tested positive for cannabis, or marijuana, at U.S. Olympic Trials, where she won the 100. Richardson would be disqualified, and her place in the 100 handed to the fourth-place finisher at trials, Jenna Prandini. Gabby Thomas, who finished fifth, would become the alternate.
It's unclear whether Richardson could appeal and still compete in Tokyo, or whether USA Track & Field might consider naming her to a relay team.
The Jamaica Gleaner first reported news of Richardson's positive test. The Cincinnati Enquirer, Reuters and the New York Times later reported that the banned substance was marijuana.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) considers cannabis a “substance of abuse.” All cannabis-based products except for cannabidiol, or CBD, are on WADA's 2021 Prohibited List and banned “in-competition." The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and USA Track and Field adhere to WADA's code.
The maximum punishment for a positive test is a years-long suspension. According to USADA, “if an athlete … establishes that their use of the substance occurred out of competition and was unrelated to sport performance, the athlete will receive a three-month sanction. If the athlete satisfactorily completes a Substance of Abuse treatment program approved by USADA, the sanction may be further reduced to one month.”
A one-month suspension, if backdated to the day of the positive test, would see Richardson reinstated in time for the women's 100-meter heats in Tokyo on July 30. But she'd be retroactively disqualified from U.S. trials, and therefore unable to compete at the Olympics. USATF rules require it to send the top three finishers at trials. The New York Times reported that other competitors in the race had been notified about Richardson's failed test, and of revised results.
Richardson sent out a cryptic tweet earlier on Thursday.
I am human
— Sha’Carri Richardson (@itskerrii) July 1, 2021
Hours later, she did not appear on the entry list for a Diamond League meet in Stockholm, where she was scheduled to compete.
Neither Richardson's agent, USA Track and Field, WADA nor USADA responded to emails and texts requesting comment.
Richardson, 21, had been widely considered a potential breakout star at the Olympics. She won the 100 at trials in 10.86 seconds.
The former LSU star turned pro after her first season with the Tigers, but not before she won the NCAA title and set a record in the 100 after running it in just 10.75 seconds. Just before trials in April, Richardson ran the sixth-fastest time in the history of the event, a personal best of 10.72.
Only one other person in the world — Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price — has recorded a faster 100 time this year. Fraser-Price, who ran it in 10.63 seconds, is a two-time gold medalist in the event. Their showdown was one of the most anticipated races at the Olympics, which begin July 23.
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