On Friday (July 9), the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) released a response letter to Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and Congressman Raskin addressing Sha’Carri Richardson’s suspension from the Tokyo Olympics and the marijuana rules for athletes. The star athlete received a 30-day suspension after testing positive for THC, an active ingredient in marijuana.
“The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) agrees that Ms. Richardson’s exclusion from the Tokyo Olympic Games is a heartbreaking situation and that the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) rules concerning marijuana must change,” the USADA leaders wrote in the letter.
“Ms. Richardson’s one-month suspension was the absolute minimum sanction that USADA was permitted to impose under the Code,” the letter continues. “Anything less would have resulted in USADA being non-compliant with the WADA Code.”
The letter was signed by CEO Travis T. Tygart, Chair Philip Dunn and Emeritus Chair Dr. Edwin Moses.
USADA’s Response Letter to Congressman Raskin and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortezhttps://t.co/D8fg7bGbzO
— USADA (@usantidoping) July 9, 2021
U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Publicizes Sha’Carri Richardson’s Suspension
According to the July 2 news release, Richardson’s victory at Olympic trials was nullified due to her anti-doping rule violation.
“Richardson’s competitive results obtained on June 19, 2021, including her Olympic qualifying results at the Team Trials, have been disqualified, and she forfeits any medals, points, and prizes,” said U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis T. Tygart in a statement. “Beyond the one-month sanction, athlete eligibility for the Tokyo Games is determined by the USOPC and/or USA Track & Field eligibility rules.”
“It sent me into a state of emotional panic,” Richardson told journalist Savannah Guthrie. “I didn’t know how to control my emotions or deal with my emotions during that time.”
Congressional Members Take a Stand
“This punishment, which is not supported by any specific evidence, may prevent Ms. Richardson from competing in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics just after she inspired the country with her performance in the Olympic Trials last month,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter.
Last month, Richardson clocked an incredible 10.86 seconds during the women’ s 100-meter dash, making her mark as one of the fastest women in the country.
“We urge you to reconsider the policies that led to this and other suspensions for recreational marijuana use, and to reconsider Ms. Richardson’s suspension,” the letter from the Congressional leaders continued. “Please strike a blow for civil liberties and civil rights by reversing this course you are on.”
Their decision lacks any scientific basis. It’s rooted solely in the systemic racism that’s long driven anti-marijuana laws. pic.twitter.com/F28c5ScI1D
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@RepAOC) July 3, 2021
The USADA’s response letter to Congressional members confirms that the organization seeks to reduce consequences and risks through education. However, the organization states its inability to change the rules governing marijuana among athletes and will better advocate for rule changes to better address situations like Richardson’s.