Sha’Carri Richardson’s burgeoning track and field career was trampled over last year after testing positive for marijuana use ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics, resulting in her disqualification from the quadrennial sporting event.
Yet, a similar incident occurred earlier this month involving Russian player Kamila Valieva. However, the figure skater was permitted to compete. Now Richardson and critics online alike are asking what’s the difference?
“Can we get a solid answer on the difference of her situation and mines?” the 21-year-old athlete asked on Twitter early Monday morning after sharing a USA Today article in which Christine Brennan called the decision to let Valieva “just a slap in the face to all of those athletes doing it the right way.”
“My mother died and I can’t run and was also favored to place top 3. The only difference I see is I’m a black young lady.” Richardson noted. At the time, the Dallas native said she used marijuana to cope with her mother’s death.
She told a reporter she found out while at the Olympic Trials in June 2021 when she won the 100 meters final, making her a qualified candidate for the Tokyo Olympics.
Elsewhere, the young star wrote in a series of posts, “It’s all in the skin.” She added, “Failed in December and the world just now know however my resulted was posted within a week, and my name & talent was slaughtered to the people.”
On her Instagram Stories, she wrote, “Losing my mother wasn’t enough for me to run, I wonder why they let her,” referring to Valieva.
Although cannabis is not considered a performance-enhancing drug, Richardson was subsequently suspended for 30-days by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. At the time, she’d be ruled out of the 100 meters but not the relay event. However, USA Track and Field ultimately disqualified her from the event entirely.
Meanwhile, Valieva tested positive for the banned heart drug trimetazidine nearly two months ago. Still, it only came to light last week after the star skater helped the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) win gold in the figure skating team event. However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that the 15-year-old could still compete in the women’s figure skating competition on Tuesday, Feb. 15, in Beijing, an event she is expected to win.
Valieva is a protected person under the World Anti-Doping Agency Code, meaning her age blocks her from being held accountable for violating specific rules as adult athletes would be. As of late, Valieva will compete; however, if she wins, she will not receive a medal.
“The panel considered that preventing the athlete to compete at the Olympic Games would cause her irreparable harm in the circumstances,” CAS Director General Matthieu Reeb said of Valieva’s case.
In a statement to CNN, the ROC said, “The doping test of an athlete who tested positive does not apply to the period of the Olympic Games. At the same time, the athlete repeatedly passed doping tests before and after December 25, 2021, including while already in Beijing during the figure skating tournament. All the results are negative.”
Richardson has since received an outpouring of support from people on social media, including one Twitter user who wrote, “So many of y’all owe Sha’Carri an apology for how y’all reacted to her situation last summer.”
ABC sports anchor Clayton Collier wrote, “I don’t remember anyone considering the ‘irreparable harm’ of suspending Sha’Carri Richardson for smoking pot to cope with her mother’s death.”
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