Track and Field·Bring It In

Suspension of Sha'Carri Richardson reignites Olympic banned substance debate

On the latest episode of CBC Sports video series Bring It In, Morgan Campbell is joined by Meghan McPeak and Dave Zirin to discuss Richardson's positive cannabis test and why it should be removed from the Olympic banned substance list.

Bring It In panel discusses sprinter's suspension for cannabis

American sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson, who won the 100-metre race in 10.86 seconds at U.S. Olympic Trials, accepted a 30-day suspension last week and will miss the Tokyo Olympics. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

U.S. sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson tested positive for chemicals found in marijuana at U.S. Olympic trials.

The 21-year-old American champion, who won the 100-metre race in 10.86 seconds on June 19, accepted a 30-day suspension last week and will miss the Tokyo Olympics.

Richardson's suspension, which ends July 27, would still have given her the possibility of competing in the women's relays, but USA Track and Field did not select her to its Olympic roster.

The American track and field star was an expected gold-medal hopeful and was set to face Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in one of the marquee races of the Olympic track meet.

On the latest episode of CBC Sports video series Bring It In, Morgan Campbell is joined by Meghan McPeak and Dave Zirin to discuss Richardson's positive cannabis test and why it should be removed from the Olympic banned substance list.

At the time of recording, the American sprinter's bid to compete in the women's relays at Tokyo 2020 was still undecided by USATF.

WATCH | Bring It In panel discusses Richardson's suspension:

Sha’Carri Richardson's positive cannabis test

3 months ago
11:17
Morgan Campbell is joined by Dave Zirin and Meghan McPeak to discuss Sha’Carri Richardson’s positive cannabis test and her subsequent one month suspension from competition. 11:17

As reports surfaced about her possible marijuana use, Richardson published a tweet saying, "I am human." The sprinter then revealed she smoked marijuana as a way of coping with her mother's recent death.

"I was definitely triggered and blinded by emotions, blinded by badness, and hurting, and hiding hurt," Richardson said on Today. "I know I can't hide myself, so in some type of way, I was trying to hide my pain."

The reality that Richardson will miss the Olympic 100m event had the Bring It In panel questioning marijuana's place on the Olympic banned list.

"This is wrapped in ignorance and bigotry and look at the end result of it, we don't get Sha'Carrie Richardson, we don't get Flo Jo 2.0, we get somebody who doesn't turn to cannabis and is slow," Zirin said.

'The science is pretty clear'

Although the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has increased the threshold for a positive cannabis test, it has not removed it from its list of banned substances.

"The science is pretty clear, whether you smoke it an hour before the race, a day before the race, [or] during the race, it does not make you any faster," Campbell pointed out.

McPeak spoke about Richardson's handling of the suspension. 

"Sha'Carri Richardson handled this the same way we have seen Black women handle things for centuries, with grace and respect," McPeak said. "She admitted she did something wrong by the rule.

"We know what this is. This is another archaic rule by the IOC and other governing bodies that don't want to see a tatted up, long-nailed, eccentric, front-laced coloured woman having excellence. This was Black excellence on display and they're trying everything in their power to take it out as much as possible so they could have it the way they want as their Olympic Games."

Campbell added to the discussion: "Whether or not this rule deserves to exist in 2021 is a completely different question and that's where there's room for debate."

The panel also brought up the news of two Namibian runners prohibited from competing in the 400m race due to increased levels of testosterone. 

WATCH | Bring It In panel discusses latest hormone testing ban of Namibian runners:

Two Namibian runners barred from Olympic 400 metres due to increased levels of testosterone

3 months ago
9:10
Morgan Campbell is joined by Dave Zirin and Meghan McPeak to discuss the latest hormone testing ban of Namibian runners Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, who were barred from competing in the Olympic 400 metre event due to high levels of natural testosterone. 9:10

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