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U.S. Sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson Will Not Compete In The Tokyo Olympics

Sha'Carri Richardson points to the sky after winning the Women's 100 Meter final on day 2 of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 19, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon.
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Sha'Carri Richardson points to the sky after winning the Women's 100 Meter final on day 2 of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 19, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon.

It's official. Despite winning the 100-meter dash at the U.S. Olympic trials last month, Sha'Carri Richardson did not make the USA Track and Field roster released Tuesday evening due to a 30-day suspension after she tested positive for THC, the intoxicant found in marijuana.

The 21-year-old sprinter told NBC's Today Show last Friday that she used the drug to cope with "emotional panic" after a reporter told her days before the trials about her biological mother's death. She said she knew the Olympics' rules about drug use and shouldn't have broken them: "I know what I'm not allowed to do and I still made that decision. [I'm] not making an excuse or looking for any empathy."

Richardson tweeted on Sunday that her odds of winning were better suited to next year's World Athletics Championships: " I'm sorry, I can't be y'all Olympic Champ this year but I promise I'll be your World Champ next year."

The news of Richardson's suspension due to marijuana use caused an uproar since the drug is legal in many states — including Oregon, where the Olympic trials were held and the sprinter used the drug. But THC is a banned substance by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), whose rules are the standard for the Olympics.

On Tuesday evening, the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team expressed sympathy for Richardson's "extenuating circumstances" and said WADA's rules about THC "should be reevaluated," but also said "it would be detrimental to the integrity of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track & Field if USATF amended its policies following competition, only weeks before the Olympic Games."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Natalie Escobar is an assistant editor on the Code Switch team, where she edits the blog and newsletter, runs the social media accounts and leads audience engagement. Before coming to NPR in 2020, Escobar was an assistant editor and editorial fellow at The Atlantic, where she covered family life and education. She also was a ProPublica emerging reporter fellow, where she helped their Illinois bureau do experimental audience engagement through theater workshops. (Really!)

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