100M sprinting sensation Sha’Carri Richardson, who has been dubbed the new Flo-Jo, is set to miss the Tokyo Olympics after she reportedly tested positive for cannabis.
Sources told EuroJournal Thursday night that Richardson – who is the fastest woman in America – had failed a drugs test during Olympics trials.
If the result of that test is confirmed, the 21 year-old Texan will almost certainly be suspended from Team USA, meaning she will not compete in the women’s 100m at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Games, which are scheduled to start on July 23.
Citing ‘a source familiar with the matter,’ EuroJournal reported that the test came at the U.S. Olympic trials last month where Richardson established herself as a gold medal contender by winning the 100m in 10.86 seconds.
Shortly after qualifying, Richardson revealed that her mother had died the week before.
Richardson has yet to comment on the test result, but tweeted ‘I am human’ earlier on Thursday afternoon, which appeared to allude to the scandal.
She will appear on NBC’s Today Show on Friday, the network confirmed to EuroJournal.
Her Olympics-qualifying performance in Eugene, Oregon, last month has been provisionally disqualified.
A positive test during the trials would mean all of Richardson’s results from the meet would be wiped out, voiding her victory in the 100m final.
It is unclear whether Richardson will appeal the test result and the disqualification.
Sha’Carri Richardson, pictured at Olympics trials in Eugene, Oregon in June 2021, is set to miss Tokyo 2020 after the reportedly tested positive for cannabis
Richardson sent this tweet earlier on Thursday, hours before it was reported that she had tested positive for using a banned drug
Richardson, pictured in Eugene, Oregon, last month, wowed fans by completing her 100 meter Olympics trial in just 10.86 seconds, earning her a place on Team USA
Richardson is now likely to be replaced by Jenna Prandini at the Tokyo Games. Prandini finished fourth in the 100 meter sprint that Richardson won.
IS CANNABIS A PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUG?
Most athletes who use cannabis say they do so for pain management, to treat anxiety or simply for recreational use outside of competition.
The drug, normally smoked or ingested in edible form, is not thought to offer huge boosts to in-game performance.
While athletes may be able to stay calmer under pressure, THC – the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – is known to inhibit motor control, balance, reaction time and coordination.
The World Anti-Doping Agency lists cannabis as a ‘substance of abuse’, meaning athletes can be banned or stripped of titles if they test positive in and around competition times.
However, a drug doesn’t have to be performance enhancing to feature on WADA’s Prohibited List.
WADA includes any substance or method that meets two of the following three criteria on the list:
• It has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance;
• It represents and actual or potential health risk to the athlete;
• It violates the ‘spirit of sport’.
Other substances that feature on WADA’s ‘substance of abuse’ list include cocaine and MDMA, which could be considered performance enhancing because of the effects those drugs have on energy levels.
Like all ‘substances of abuse’, cannabis remains prohibited in competition and unless an athlete can prove that they ingested cannabis outside of competition, they would still be subject to a two year ban.
A three month ban is only available if an athlete can prove they ingested cannabis outside of competition.
However, there are numerous anecdotal examples of athletes who have sworn by using cannabis before games, including 1998 Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Ross Rebagliati and pitcher Bill ‘Spaceman’ Lee.
There is also an argument that cannabis might enhance performance in precision sports such as archery, darts, or curling.
Richardson was billed to run in the 200m at the Stockholm Diamond League meeting in Sweden this weekend but she was not on the entry list for the race the meet’s official website on Thursday.
Cannabis has been classified as a ‘substance of abuse’ by the World Anti-Doping Agency since January 1 this year.
The USADA classes it as a prohibitive substance because it says it is performance enhancing, harmful to athletes and against the ‘spirit of the sport’. Its status as a performance-enhancing drug is disputed.
The use of cannabis is only prohibited during in-competition periods, which run from 11:59 p.m. on the day before a competition to the end of the competition.
A positive test result would require an athlete to have more than 150 nanograms per milliliter of THC in their system.
If athletes can prove that their ingestion of the substance was unrelated to sports performance then a suspension of three months rather than the usual four years is imposed.
If an athlete is willing to undertake an approved treatment programme in collaboration with their national anti-doping body then the ban can be reduced to one month.
If Richardson receives a one-month suspension set from the time of her reportedly failed drug test at the trials, she could return to competition just before the Games.
The track and field portion of the competition begins on July 30.
However, her qualifying scores would still be wiped, making her inclusion unlikely.
At the discretion of U.S.A. Track and Field, it is possible that Richardson could take part in the 4x100M relay, even if she is ruled out of individual competition.
The U.S. relay pool is made up of six athletes, three of whom are the top three finishers in the 100M at Olympic trials. The others are an alternate and two others, who are named by U.S.A. Track and Field.
Richardson could also appeal any sanction to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), as could any other sports body who felt a punishment was too lenient.
The Jamaica Gleaner first broke the story, and reported that Dallas-born Richardson’s agent Renaldo Nehemiah had not returned requests for a comment.
On April 10 this year, Richardson ran 100 meters in 10.72 seconds – the fastest wind-legal time for an American female athlete in almost 10 years.
That result saw her crowned the fastest active athlete in the United States.
It was also the sixth fastest run by a woman ever, and fourth fastest by any American athlete.
Richardson clocked a time of 10.64 seconds 90 minutes before that run, but a strong tail-wind disqualified that performance from being recorded.
Richardson decided against trying to qualify for the Olympics 200 meter sprint.
After she qualified for the games, Richardson told EuroJournal that her mom had died the week before.
Richardson is set to be replaced on Team USA by Jenna Prandini, who finished fourth in the 100 meter sprint that Richardson had won
Richardson’s penchant for long, lavishly-decorated nails saw her compared to megastar Olympic sprinter Florence ‘Flo-Jo’ Griffith-Joyner, who won three gold medals at Seoul in 1988
Flo-Jo, pictured in action at the 1988 Seoul Games, died in 1998 and remains the fastest woman of all time
She said: ‘My family has kept me grounded.
‘This year has been crazy for me. Going from just last week, losing my biological mother, and I’m still here…
‘Last week, finding out my biological mother passed away and still choosing to pursue my dreams, still coming out here, still here to make the family that I do still have on this earth proud…
‘I’m highly grateful for them. Without them, there would be no me. Without my grandmother, there would be no Sha’Carri Richardson. My family is my everything, my everything until the day I’m done.’
‘Y’all see me on this track, and y’all see the poker face that I put on, but nobody but them and my coach know what I go through on a day-to-day basis.’
Richardson’s incredible athletic prowess saw her compared to iconic sprinter Florence ‘Flo-Jo’ Griffith-Joyner.
In a glowing profile published last month, Vogue favorably compared Richardson to Flo-Jo, and highlighted how the two star athletes even shared a penchant for long, lavishly-decorated fingernails.
Flo-Jo became an athletics megastar after winning gold in the 100m, 200m and relay at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
She died aged just 38 in September 1998 after suffering a massive epileptic seizure in her sleep.
Flo-Jo was also accused of using performance-enhancing drugs after a rapid improvement in her form ahead of the 1998 games, but passed all drug tests she took while competing.
Florence ‘Flo-Jo’ Griffith Joyner
Florence Griffith Joyner, known as Flo-Jo, was an American track and field athlete, considered the fastest woman of all time.
The world records she set in 1988 for both the 100m and 200m still stand today, 23 years after her death at age 38.
As well as for her speed, she was celebrated for bringing style to the racetrack, where she ran in form-fitting bodysuits with six-inch false nails.
Joyner won her first Olympic medal, a silver, at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in the 200-meter run. But it was at the 1988 games in Seoul that she made her indelible mark on her sport.
During the competition, she snagged three gold medals and a silver, setting the 100m and 200m records -10.49sec and 21.34sec respectively – that still stand today.
However Joyner’s success at the games sparked speculation that she was using performance-enhancing drugs.
This was further fuelled by apparent changes to her appearance and voice between 1987 and 1988.
Her physique became far more muscular and her voice change was noted when a comparison was made between a BBC interview she gave in 1984 and one four years later.
In his autobiography, Carl Lewis reflected on Flo-Jo’s performances at the US trials, and then at the Seoul Olympics that followed, as ‘a change that came too quickly for the imagination’.
‘Her physical appearance alone, muscles popping everywhere, made a lot of people wonder,’ Lewis wrote. ‘Then there was the voice, much deeper than it had been.’
Speculation about potential doping has only grown in the years since Joyner’s death as no athlete has come even close to beating her times.
Joyner never failed a drugs test and protested her innocence of doping until the day she died from an epileptic seizure.