My Grandma Jane always used to say: “Don’t forget, as a Black person, if you do something wrong, the world will not treat you the same way they treat a White person. The world will treat you a lot more harshly.”
These words came to my mind this morning as I learned that Sha’Carri Richardson wasn’t selected by USA Track & Field to run the 4x100 meter relay at the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.
During Olympics tryouts last month, Richardson had consumed cannabis recreationally while in Oregon (a state in which the substance is legal, by the way), upon learning about the death of her biological mother from a reporter. Devastated and in a moment of turmoil, fragility, and vulnerability, she consumed a cannabis-infused edible.
As was to be expected, her doping test showed that she had THC, one of the principal ingredients of marijuana in her system. Because THC is forbidden by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WMDA) due to its still disputed performance-enhancing properties, Richardson was banned from participating in competitive running tournaments for a month. This was already a first blow for the athlete because it meant she could no longer compete in the Women’s Olympic 100-meter race in Tokyo, an event that she had been training for most of her life.
Given that her ban would end prior to the Women’s Olympics 100-meter relay race, there was still a chance that she could compete in the Olympics in that category, but she needed to be selected by the USA Track & Field to do so. Yesterday, however, they did not select her.
And with that, all Richardson’s hopes and dreams of running in this year’s Olympics were brutally cut short. After years of arduous physical and mental training and preparation, she has been denied a spot on the team because of a silly mistake I think she will regret. Despite saying that they care, USA Track & Field showed no leniency to Richardson, and this is particularly heart-wrenching given the extenuating circumstances that Richardson faced.