Two months after Sha’Carri Richardson was pulled from the Olympics for smoking weed, the World Anti Doping Agency has decided to review its stance on what it currently considers a prohibited substance.
During a meeting of WADA’s executive committee (ExCo) in Turkey on Tuesday, the group decided “following receipt of requests from a number of stakeholders, the ExCo endorsed the decision of the List Expert Advisory Group to initiate in 2022 a scientific review of the status of cannabis,” according to a press release.
WADA also said the substance would remain on its “Prohibited Substances” list through 2022.
Richardson, 21, electrified the country after running a 10.86 in the 100-meter Olympic qualifying race in Eugene, Ore., in June. The sprinter never got to compete in Tokyo. Mere weeks later, her drug test taken during the U.S. Track and Field Olympic trials, came up positive for marijuana, which is on WADA’s list of prohibited substances. She was issued a month-long suspension and her 10.86 qualifying time at Trials was disqualified. USA Track & Field named Jenna Prandini the replacement. Prandini and Team USA women’s 4×100 team came back home with a silver medal.
The news on Richardson drew national attention. Lawmakers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes called on the U.S. Anti Doping Agency, which is a signatory of WADA’s rules, to remove Richardson’s suspension.
“This punishment, which is not supported by any scientific 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 Congresswoman co-wrote in a letter with Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin. “We urge you to reconsider the policies that led to this and other suspensions for recreational use marijuana.
“This suspension is the result of USADA’s antiquated prohibition on the use of cannabis products by U.S. athletes,” the letter continued. “The ban on marijuana is a significant and unnecessary burden on athletes’ civil liberties.”
Richardson explained on the Today Show in July that she smoked after finding out at Trials by a reporter that her birth mother — who she said she had a difficult relationship with — had died.
“I still made that decision … not making any excuse or looking for any empathy in my case,” Richardson said. “People don’t understand — or people do, we all have our different things we deal with — what it’s like to go in front of the world, put on a face and hide my pain.
“To hear that information coming from a complete stranger, it was definitely triggering,” Richardson continued. “It was definitely nerve-shocking … that sent me into a state of mind, a state of emotional panic. I still have to go out and put out a performance for my dream, go out there and still compete. … From there, just blinded by emotions, blinded by hiding hurt. … I knew I couldn’t hide myself. In some type of way, I was just trying to hide my pain.”
After Richardson’s suspension was over, she competed in the 100-meter again at the Prefontaine Classic back in Eugene.
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