Twenty-one-year-old sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, who made headlines recently for winning the women’s 100-meter at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials with a time of 10.86 seconds, has been suspended from the Olympic team after testing positive for marijuana. Richardson seemingly addressed the situation in a tweet on Thursday and apologized publicly on NBC’s Today show on Friday, saying, “I want to take responsibility for my actions. I know what I did. I know what I’m supposed to do. I know what I’m allowed not to do, and I still made that decision.”
This isn’t the first time an Olympic athlete has come under fire for allegations of drug use; in 2009, swimmer Michael Phelps was disciplined after being photographed inhaling from a marijuana pipe. While Phelps lost sponsorship deals and was given a three-month suspension from USA Swimming, he was still ultimately able to come out of retirement and compete in the 2016 Olympics. What Richardson could be facing, though, is a total disqualification from her first Olympics.
In her Today show interview, Richardson explained that her use of marijuana came after learning that her biological mother had died, noting that marijuana has “never been a steroid. It will never be a steroid.” World Anti-Doping Agency rules still prohibit the use of marijuana.
Whether or not Richardson will still be able to compete remains unclear. While Richardson will be subject to a one-month ban, and therefore won’t be able to run in the women’s 100, the question of whether she will be able to run the 4×100-meter relay is now up to USA Track & Field. That event takes place later in the Olympic Games, after the expiration of the one-month suspension. Richardson would still have to be named to the U.S. Team by U.S.A. Track & Field in order to compete. The organization released a statement on Friday morning calling the situation “incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved.”