Sha’Carri Richardson’s Olympics Suspension Prompts World Anti-Doping Agency Review

After sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was kept out of the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo for testing positive for marijuana, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will take another look at its ban on cannabis due to “requests from a number of stakeholders” in international athletics, NPR reports.

The WADA’s executive committee will start its “scientific review of the status of cannabis” early next year. If a change is to come from the review, there’s no word yet as to when it will take effect, though it likely won’t come anytime soon. Cannabis will still be banned in the 2022 athletic season. The agency will issue a new version of its list of prohibited substances in October.

“I am pleased with the decisions that were taken today by the executive committee on a range of key topics. These will help further strengthen the global anti-doping program and the protection of clean sport,” WADA president Witold Bańka said.

“In particular, the decisions made by the committee in relation to compliance, the 2022 Prohibited List and in a number of science-related areas will prove to be important for the continued success of the system and for the good of athletes around the world,” Bańka added.

Richardson made headlines during the last Olympic season after she received a 30-day suspension for cannabis use, disqualifying her from participating in Tokyo despite her winning the 100-meter race at the U.S. Olympic trials. As Blavity previously reported, Richardson said she used marijuana after finding out about the death of her biological mother from a reporter just days before the trials. 

“To hear that information come from a complete stranger, it was definitely triggering. It was definitely nerve-shocking,” she told Today. “No offense to him at all, he was just doing his job, but it put me in a state of mind of emotional panic.”

“I’m not making an excuse or looking for empathy in my case,” she added. “However, being in that position in my life, finding out something like that. … Dealing with the relationship I have with my mother, that definitely was a very heavy topic on me.”

“I was definitely triggered and blinded by emotions, blinded by sadness, and hurting and hiding hurt,” she said.

A number of U.S. states have already legalized the use of recreational marijuana as well as taken part in a conversation on if the drug should be looked at as a performance-enhancing substance.

“I didn’t think the evidence base for marijuana would be particularly strong,” Dr. Michael Joyner of the Mayo Clinic said, per NPR. “But as I looked at the papers yesterday, I was surprised at how weak it is.”

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