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Petition Created to Reinstate Sha’Carri Richardson Receives Over Half a Million Signatures, WADA Responds

Efforts to get star sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson back on Team USA for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic following her disqualification earlier this month due to a failed drug test are now coming in the form of a petition baring over half a million signatures. 

The petition named “Let Sha’Carri Run!” was allegedly created by MoveOn Civic Action, a progressive lobbying group, and is addressed to the non-government organizations responsible for the 21-year-old’s penalty: the United States Anti-Doping Agency, International Olympic Committee, and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Sha’Carri Richardson looks on after winning the Women’s 100 Meter final on day 2 of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 19, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The petition calls the basis for which Richardson was penalized “outdated” and “arbitrarily enforced.” It continued, “The imposition of a penalty against a world-class Black, queer, woman athlete is powerfully and infuriatingly reminiscent of the way drug laws are regularly applied in the United States. Recreational marijuana use has been de facto legal for upper-middle-class white people for years—something more states are recognizing as they legalize marijuana for all people and consider how to repair the damage done to Black and brown communities by decades of the ‘war on drugs.’ ” The petition, which appeared to have been created nearly a week ago, has since garnered 580,575 signatures of its 600,000 goal. 

As previously reported, the USADA suspended the Texas native for 30 days and invalidated her qualifying performance in the 100m dash at the Olympic trials in June after she tested positive for THC, a component found in marijuana. Her suspension would’ve ended in time for her to participate in the women’s 4X100 meter relay race; however, it was later announced that she was not asked to join the team. 

Richardson’s case has gained attention and support from fans, celebrities and even politicians, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) who wrote to leaders of the U.S. and world anti-doping agencies, asking the organizations to overturn their decisions:

“We are also concerned that the continued prohibition of marijuana while your organizations allow recreational use of alcohol and other drugs reflects anti-drug laws and policies that have historically targeted Black and Brown communities while largely condoning drug use in white communities. Anti-marijuana laws have a particularly ugly history of systemic racism.” 

The World Anti-Doping Agency responded to both parties, noting that marijuana had long been prohibited by the organization. Witold Banka, the president for WADA wrote in a letter, “While we sympathize with the circumstances of this case and applaud Ms. Richardson’s accountability for accepting that the rules are in place for athletes worldwide, WADA simply plays a coordinating role in the development and publication of the prohibited list.”

It continued, “As you correctly note in your letter, the testing of Ms. Richardson and her resulting suspension were administered and adjudicated by the USADA. WADA is not a party to that particular matter and therefore simply is not in a position to vacate the results of Ms. Richardon’s test in Oregon …”

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