Sha’Carri and the Olympics: What Happened?

Hello, it has been a while. But, that does not mean that you should not have been following what has been going on in the world of sports.

Well, if you have not, here is a recap. The Euros and Wimbledon have been on. We have also had the NBA playoffs and now NBA finals. Currently, we are seeing a lot of women and men’s international cricket, and the British and Irish Lions are in South Africa. This is merely a snippet of what has been going on.

However, you can tell that we will be talking about Sha’Carri Richardson and her ban from competing at the Olympics.

For those that do not know about Richardson, which is disappointing, here is a timeline of events.

  • In 2019, Richardson ran the 100m in 10.75s at LSU, which was the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) record.
  • This made her one of the ten fastest women in history at just 19 years old.
  • Recently, she qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics in June. She ran a time of 10.86 seconds.
  • However, on July 1st, it was reported that Richardson had tested positive for THC, which means cannabis, following her 100m final at the US trials.
  • Subsequently, this made her run invalid and she was given one-month ineligibility, which began on June 28, 2021.

Essentially, this ruled her out of the 100 meters at the Olympics. However, had she been picked for the squad, she would have been eligible for the relay.

Richardson explained that she had used cannabis to cope with her mother’s death and that she accepts the punishment.

Richardson will miss the Olympics in Tokyo despite being one of the favourites for the 100M

So now that you have caught up, there are so many points to unpack.

The first point is this. As much as we all feel for Richardson, the unfortunate part is that she broke the rules. If you are going to compete under these governing bodies you have to follow their rules. No matter how antiquated and unfair these rules may be.

The second point is that the ban on marijuana is ridiculous. Unless this writer is misinformed, marijuana does not enhance performance. Steven Hawkins, the Interim President of the United States Cannabis Council, argued that there is no empirical data that shows that THC enhances athletic performance.

Margaret Haney, a professor of neurobiology at Columbia University, stated that the evidence is extremely weak, for those who suggest that THC enhances athletic performance.

The only way it does is if there is a pack of pringles at the finish line. Considering what Richardson’s personal best time is and what she ran at the trial, she might have been doing her competition a favour.

In all seriousness, it is time for these governing bodies to catch up with the times. Multiple sports leagues around the world have relaxed their rules around the use of marijuana. The science shows it can actually be of help. Multiple athletes have even said they use it to ease their anxiety and for medicinal purposes.

A large part of the reason why marijuana has the stigma that it does is due to racism. We need to evolve past that way of thinking.

The third point is that Richardson and other athletes need support. Yes, she broke a rule, but she had a very human reaction to a horrible life event. One can only hope that the governing bodies have provided her help or plan on providing her help. She needs to be supported, not admonished.

The fourth point is that not only do the Olympics rules seem ancient, but they seem to predominantly hurt black athletes, specifically black women. There have been bans on more inclusive swimming caps for black athletes(that they are now reviewing). They banned Gwen Berry from any form of protest and placed her on 12-month probation after she raised her fist during the national anthem at the 2019 Pan American Games.

Then you look at Brianna McNeal’s ban. McNeal has been given a five-year ban for a missed drugs test. It was apparently her second time, but she says that she was in bed recovering from an abortion.

It has also been reported that Caster Semenya may never be able to run at the Olympics again, due to a testosterone level rule change. Those in charge need to do way better.

The fifth point is that a lot of black people have said they are boycotting the Olympics due to the treatment of black athletes. This writer completely understands that thought process. However, other black athletes have worked hard to get to the Olympics and need our support. Let us not neglect them.

The last point is that nobody has won here. Richardson loses out on fulfilling her dream, the Olympics loses out on having a budding superstar at their events and the fans lose out on seeing one of the rising stars in sports.

More has to be done to prevent situations like this because unfortunately, we all lose out.

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