‘Rules are rules’: Fierce debate as US sprinter’s Olympic dreams on hold after testing positive for marijuana

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News that a black track and field sprinter who originally qualified for the 2021 Olympics has been suspended for a month for smoking pot and may not make it to the Games at all has her fans predictably playing the race card.

During the U.S. Olympic team trials last month, sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson won the women’s 100 meters event, automatically qualifying her for the Olympics.

Her performance drew widespread attention because former first lady Michelle Obama drew attention to it.

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However, before participating in the trial, Richardson took a drug test and, according to The New York Times, that test has since come back positive. As a result, she’s been suspended till late July.

“The United States Anti-Doping Agency announced the positive test result Friday morning, and said Richardson had accepted a suspension of one month, starting on June 28,” the Times has confirmed.

She could still theoretically compete because track and field events don’t start till the latter portion of July, but only if she’s kept on the U.S. team.

The problem is that, according to reports, it sounds like U.S.A. Track & Field has already begun looking for her replacement.

“[S]everal runners have been told that they have moved up a spot in the final standings. Jenna Prandini, who placed fourth at the trials, has been notified that she will now be one of the three American women running the 100 in Tokyo, and Gabby Thomas, who finished fifth at the trials, was named as an alternate for the race,” according to the Times.

In an interview Friday morning, Richardson claimed she’d smoked marijuana around the time of the Olympic trials because of the unexpected death of her mother.

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The part about her mother’s death was true.

“Minutes after securing her first Olympic berth on Saturday following a dominant victory in the 100 meters, American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson revealed during an emotional post-race interview that her biological mother died last week,” ESPN reported at the time.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, Richardson posted a tweet Thursday evening that pithily read, “I am human.”

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The tweet provoked an outpouring of sympathy but also anger — with some of Richardson’s fans shrieking about “racism,” “systemic racism,” “white privilege,” etc.

Look (*Language warning):

In response to these complaints, critics, some of them very sympathetic to Richardson, fired back by pointing out that rules are rules — and that Richardson is by no means the first athlete to ever be suspended for smoking pot.

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“Weed should not be on the ban list,” one of the critics noted.

That’s a fair argument.

But, he continued, that still doesn’t excuse Richardson choosing to smoke marijuana despite know full well that “she was going to get tested just like everybody else.”

That too is a fair argument.

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Vivek Saxena

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