Track and field hopeful Sha’Carri Richardson recently made her first public appearance since being disqualified from the upcoming Tokyo Olympics following her positive marijuana test in June.
The 21-year-old sprinter graced the red carpet for the annual ESPY Awards that took place on Saturday, July 10, at The Rooftop at Pier 17 at the Seaport in New York City. The event was hosted by actor Anthony Mackie, who defended Richardson and tennis star Naomi Osaka during his monologue.
“USA Track & Field, how you mess that up?” Mackie stated. “Weed is a de-enhancing drug. It doesn’t make you do anything but want to watch another episode of ‘Bob’s Burgers.’ You never saw Snoop Dogg run anywhere. I don’t get how you justify not letting her run.”
The young athlete didn’t seem to let the coverage surrounding the controversy dampen her evening as she appeared all smiles wearing a black-and-silver open-back gown and black heels and burgundy hair.
The Dallas native’s appearance comes just days after it was revealed that she was not asked to join the USA Track and Field team and would not be on the roster for the women’s 4X100 meters relay race — the only event she could’ve competed in following her month-long suspension that started June 28.
Richardson took full accountability for her actions, revealing that she only used marijuana to cope with the loss of her mother, who passed away only one week before her impressive Olympics Trial performance last month, which saw her finish first in 10.86 seconds in the women’s 100 meters final.
“I want to apologize for my actions,” she said at the time. “I know what I did. I know what I’m supposed to do. What I’m allowed not to do, and I still made that decision. But [I’m] not making an excuse or looking for any empathy in my case.”
Richardson gained support from fans and celebrities alike, despite the many people on social media who noted that the star knew the rules and still chose to disobey them. Nike, which sponsors the young star, released a statement in support of the athlete, writing, “We appreciate Sha’Carri’s honesty and accountability and will continue to support her through this time.”
Likewise, Osaka’s decision to withdraw from this year Wimbledon competition to focus on her mental health also got praise. She initially had been fined $15,000 for refusing to talk to media at the French Open before ending her competition season all together.
During the ceremony Mackie criticized those who were opposed to the young star’s decision, calling the backlash “crazy.” He continued, “I’m no tennis exec, I don’t know, but if my sport had one of the most popular and marketable athletes on the planet, you know what I would do? I would probably make sure she felt comfortable and respected. But hey, what do I know, right? I’m just Captain America.”