The American sprinter and promising competitor at the Tokyo Olympics, will miss the 100 meters at the Games after receiving a one-month ban for testing positive for marijuana during her U.S. trials victory in June.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) confirmed the suspension, though the 21-year-old still has a chance of running in the Olympic relay events set for the first week of August.
The ban was reduced to one month due to the fact that the cannabis usage was outside of competition and was not related to Richardson’s performance. She also completed drug counseling following the testing.
Richardson is the fastest American woman this year, with a time of 10.72 seconds. Her ability to race in August’s competition remains — if she is cleared of this setback. For this gold medal contender with an impressive track record, this event could put her future as a pro athlete in question.
Though she admitted making a mistake during a trying time (directly following her mother’s death), she emphasizes that she takes full responsibility and would never ingest any performance-enhancing drugs.
Richardson’s biggest sponsor, Nike, said it will stand by her. Her honesty and accountability made it clear to the sportswear giant that she remains a strong character and a fitting symbol for the brand.
What Does The Ban Mean From A Cannabis User’s Perspective?
From a cannabis user’s perspective, the ban of this Olympic gold medal contender is disappointing. In a time when cannabis is largely mainstream, it’s a travesty that medicating with this natural herb can still put one’s career and reputation on the line.
It is also worth noting that medical marijuana is permitted in the state of Texas, where Richardson resides. Though the current program is restrictive, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed into law legislation that will slightly expand the state’s MMJ program starting in September of 2021.
It’s clear that cannabis is still a hot-button issue in modern life, thanks to this and other prominent public figures’ stigmatization surrounding their usage of the plant. However, the fact remains that cannabis is hugely beneficial in helping ease mental and physical illnesses.
The death of a loved one can be a traumatic and stressful life event, and marijuana is known to help people cope with issues like depression, PTSD, anxiety, insomnia, and more.
Richardson would not have faced any repercussions had she taken antidepressants or any other permitted medication prescribed by a psychiatrist, and marijuana should be treated the same. She was not medicating to gain an edge on the competition but merely to cope with an enormous life stressor.
We can only hope that organizations like the Olympics will reform their policies to enable participants to medicate as they see fit under the guidance of a licensed medical doctor. And with overwhelming support to decriminalize cannabis at the Federal level, we may be one step closer to a future where this beneficial plant is treated like the valuable and necessary medication it is.