Nike backs Sha’Carri Richardson amid uproar over Olympics suspension for using marijuana

‘We appreciate Sha’Carri’s honesty and accountability and will continue to support her through this time,’ Nike says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Friday 02 July 2021 21:07 BST
Related video: Sha’Carri Richardson Speaks Out After Failed Drug Test

Nike has announced that it will continue to support US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson after she was suspended from the Olympics for using marijuana.

The sportswear company sponsoring Ms Richardson said: “We appreciate Sha’Carri’s honesty and accountability and will continue to support her through this time.”

Ms Richardson is set to miss the 100-metre race at the Tokyo Games later this summer after accepting a one-month suspension following her positive test for cannabis at the US Olympic trials in June. She won the trials with a time of 10.86 seconds.

The current world record is 10.49 seconds and was set by Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988.

Ms Richardson, 21, still has a chance at running in the relay event taking place later in the games.

The women’s 100-metre event takes place on 30 July, just two days after the end of Ms Richardson’s ban, but her positive drug test at the trials annulled her qualifying result for the race.

“The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking on many levels,” the CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, Travis Tygart said. “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.”

Speaking to NBC’s Today on Friday, Ms Richardson said her actions occurred as she was dealing with the news that her mother had died.

“I’m human. We are human, I want to be as transparent as possible with you guys whether it’s good, whether it’s bad,” she said.

“But there will never be a steroid attached to the name Sha’Carri Richardson. The charge and what the situation was, was marijuana,” she added.

USADA said her ban was reduced to one month because her drug use had occurred outside of her sport and because it was unrelated to her performance. She also completed a drug counselling programme.

Ms Richardson is the American woman with the fastest time recorded this year at 10.72 seconds. She could be able to race in the 4x100m relay at the Olympics at the beginning of August if she’s one of the two sprinters chosen by USA Track & Field on top of the four sprinters who finishes first in the trials.

Asked if she was hoping to get a spot on the Tokyo relay team, she said: “Right now I’m just putting all of my time and energy into dealing with what I need to deal with to heal myself.

“So if I’m allowed to take that place [at the Olympics] I would be grateful for it but if not, right now I’m going to focus on myself.

“I’m 21, I’m very young. Unlike most, I have plenty of Games left in me to compete in and I have plenty of talent that backs me up, because everything I do comes from me naturally, no steroid, no anything.

“This incident was about marijuana, so after my sanction is up, I’ll be back and able to compete and every single time I step on the track I’ll be ready for whatever anti-doping agency to come and get what it is that they need.”

USATF said they would help her with any mental health challenges she might face. “Sha’Carri Richardson’s situation is incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved,” they added.

She was in Oregon when she used marijuana, where it’s legal, but it’s banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“I know what I did, I know what I’m supposed to do ... and I still made that decision,” she said.

The last time an American woman won the Olympic 100m title was in 1996 when Gail Devers took home the gold medal in Atlanta, Georgia.

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