UPDATE: Thanks to leftover War on Drugs hysteria, the Olympics just got a whole lot less inspiring.
After charming everyone at the Olympic Trials, Sha’Carri Richardson has been suspended for one month after testing positive for marijuana. While she won the women’s 100-meter race at the U.S. track and field trials last month, her positive test invalidates her result.
She could still qualify for the 4×100 relay squad, but if she doesn’t, we’ll all miss out on seeing an inspiring and charismatic athlete with an emotionally gripping backstory.
When it comes to marijuana restrictions, the Olympics are way behind the times.
In response to Richardson’s positive test, United States Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis T. Tygart went full Reefer Madness lecture mode in a press release.
“Hopefully, her acceptance of responsibility and apology will be an important example to us all that we can successfully overcome our regrettable decisions, despite the costly consequences of this one to her,” she said.
This is absurd. Richardson has nothing to apologize for. As numerous people have already pointed out, if she were looking for a competitive advantage in sprinting, marijuana is the last drug she’d want to take. Unfortunately, the head of the USADA apparently knows less about this subject than every open-mic comedian ever.
In an emotional interview on The Today Show, Richardson apologized to her fans.
“I just want to take responsibility for my actions, I know what I did, I know what I’m supposed to do, I’m allowed not to do and I still made that decision,” she said. “I’m not making an excuse or looking for any empathy in any case.”
She’s going to get our empathy regardless.
ORIGINAL REPORT: If creating three-hanky tearjerkers were an Olympic event, Sha’Carri Richardson would’ve already clinched a gold medal.
For one thing, Richardson emerged victorious in the 100 meters at this week’s US Olympic Team Trials and qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Yet somehow she managed to up the ante on the heart tugging moments after her biggest athletic achievement.
Richardson, who came out as bisexual in a 2015 tweet, thanked her girlfriend for persuading her to adopt bright orange hair for the race, noting, “My girlfriend actually picked my color. She said it spoke to her, the fact that it was just so loud and vibrant, and that’s who I am.”
That added a human interest element to Richardson’s win. But she still had more heartstrings to tug.
Seated in the stands was Richardson’s grandmother. And after one of her greatest moments as a sprinter, Richardson made a beeline to the stands for an embrace.
The Hallmark Channel could play this footage on a 24-7 loop and just take the rest of the year off:
This is why we watch sports, right? This is what reaching a career pinnacle should look like all the time. It feels like a privilege to get to glimpse such a special moment for Richardson and the profound emotional bond between her and her grandmother.
Somehow, there were more moments to come. Still nearly out of breath, Richardson gave a post-race interview for the ages, joyfully gasping, “I’m an Olympian!” before shocking the TV audience by revealing:
“Last week, finding out my biological mother passed away, and still choosing to pursue my dreams. Still coming out here. Still making sure to make the family that I do still have on this earth proud. And the fact that nobody knows what I go through, everybody has struggles and I understand that, but y’all see me on this track, and y’all see the poker face I put on, but nobody but them and my coach know what I go through on a day to day basis.”
As she revealed, following her biological mother’s death, Richardson’s Olympic qualifying run was a triumph of perseverance. After clips of her post-race response went viral, Richardson became a sensation, appearing on “The Today Show” and even receiving a congratulatory tweet from Michelle Obama:
If you haven’t seen it yet, @itskerrii’s race at the Olympic Trials is something to behold—but her grace and grit in this interview might be even more special. We are all so proud of you, Sha’Carri! Can’t wait to see what you do in Tokyo! pic.twitter.com/QPbAQLzF7d
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) June 22, 2021
Richardson herself gave a twitter shout-out to the LGBTQ community immediately after her moment of triumph.
Even though we can’t wait to see what she does in Tokyo, Richardson has already made us all so very proud.