SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) — Bay Area lawmakers and athletes were among those offering support to U.S. sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson and decrying the punishment she was handed after testing positive for cannabis use.
Richardson has been suspended from the team and will lose her slot at the Olympic 100-meter race for testing positive for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Her result at the Olympic trials was erased and fourth-place finisher Jenna Prandini is expected to get Richardson’s spot in the 100. Richardson’s 30-day suspension may still allow her to compete in the women’s relays.READ MORE: COVID: San Jose Latest To Require Vaccination Or Weekly Testing For City Employees
Richardson said during a TV interview she smoked marijuana as a way of coping with her mother’s recent death. Before word of the suspension, she cryptically sent out a tweet which simply said, “I am human.”
I am human
— Sha’Carri Richardson (@itskerrii) July 1, 2021
Though there have been wide-ranging debates about whether marijuana should be considered a performance-enhancing drug, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency makes clear on its website that “all synthetic and naturally occurring cannabinoids are prohibited in-competition, except for cannabidiol (CBD),” a byproduct that is being explored for possible medical benefits.
In the Bay Area, the reaction to the penalty for use of cannabis was condemned by lawmakers and athletes. Bay Area congresswoman Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) called it “shameful” and said in a tweet, “Out of date & discriminatory marijuana laws trickle down & have life-altering consequences.”
Marijuana is not a performance enhancing drug. Out of date & discriminatory marijuana laws trickle down & have life-altering consequences. It's shameful.@RepBlumenauer & I are urging USADA to reconsider. Sha'Carri deserves to compete on the world stage. #LetRichardsonRun https://t.co/a7pJbqfUFt
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) July 2, 2021
San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney called the penalty “ridiculous and wrong.”
People shouldn't be tested or suspended for having marijuana in their system.
It is not performance enhancing, & not illegal in most places for either adult or medicinal use.
Suspending someone from their job or from competing, like Sha’Carri Richardson, is ridiculous & wrong.
— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) July 2, 2021
State Sen. Scott Wiener said cannabis is legal and helps people medically and should be removed from the list of banned substances.
Taking medicine — cannabis or otherwise — shouldn’t lead to a ban from the Olympics.READ MORE: San Francisco's Filthy Streets Getting A Deep Cleaning; 'It Smells A Lot Better'
Cannabis doesn’t enhance performance. But it’s legal & helps people medically. Cannabis needs to be removed from the list of banned substances. https://t.co/0Q1yKKKv1u
— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) July 2, 2021
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman bemoaned both Richardson’s suspension and the fact that she was forced to explain her use of a legal substance.
I’m very proud of this young woman but so frustrated at the place we are as a society. She is dealing with one of the greatest personal losses anyone could ever have to deal with in the midst of trying to accomplish one of the most difficult feats. Now we make her explain smh 😡 https://t.co/UvuqGCxGY0
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) July 2, 2021
Former 49ers cornerback and TV analyst Deion Sanders said he was praying for Richardson and that she would overcome this adversity.
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) July 2, 2021
While not weighing in on her prospects for the relays, USA Track and Field issued a statement that said her “situation is incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved.” The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said it was “working with USATF to determine the appropriate next steps.”
Richardson said if she’s allowed to run in the relay, “I’m grateful, but if not, I’m just going to focus on myself.”
Richardson’s suspension denies the Olympics of a much-hyped race and an electric personality. She ran at the trials with flowing orange hair and long fingernails.
“To put on a face and go out in front of the world and hide my pain, who am I to tell you how to cope when you’re dealing with pain and struggles you’ve never had to experience before?” Richardson said.
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So let me get this straight: the cannabis industry is projected to rake in $70 billion by 2028, but thousands of people are behind bars for cannabis charges, and Sha’Carri Richardson is suspended from the Olympics for using it?
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) July 2, 2021
© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.