Sha’Carri Richardson’s Olympic dreams were cut terribly short when she tested positive for marijuana ahead of the 2021 games. Her ensuing ban left many fuming, bitter, and perplexed. Why was she banned from the games while Michael Phelps, who famously was photographed ripping a bong hit, was not? Gossip Cop can clear up the confusion.
On July 31st, the gold medal will be awarded for the Women’s 100-meter race. Richardson, despite easily breezing by competition in the qualifiers, will not be allowed the run. She failed a drug test for marijuana, invalidating her ticket to Tokyo. Richardson has accepted the suspension with as much poise and grace as possible, simply saying she was coping with the death of her biological mother. She’s admitted that she shouldn’t have done it, but she was too emotionally lost to make a rational decision.
Richarson’s ban infuriated fans and critics alike, with critics calling it flagrantly sexist and racist. Marijuana is legal in the state of Oregon after all, where Richardson alleged consumed the cannabis, and it’s not like weed makes you a better runner. Many more were confused why she’d be disciplined so harshly while others weren’t. Michael Phelps was famously photographed smoking grass and received no such ban. The answer lies in timing and semantics.
He Didn’t Test Positive
The biggest misconception is that Richardson was actually banned from the games. She wasn’t; she was just disqualified from her qualifier and faced a one-month suspension from competition. She was technically still eligible to run in the Olympics 4x100m relay as it won’t happen until August, but she was not chosen for the race by the team. The rotten thing is the timing. Other than a test at the Olympics themselves, this was the worst possible time to test positive.
When Phelps was photographed smoking a marijuana pipe, he too was disciplined. He lost a sponsor and was suspended for three months. The difference was in the timing. Phelps was photographed months after the games were already over, so his suspension didn’t impact his races. Furthermore, he never actually tested positive either.
Phelps was photographed smoking weed months after he won his gold medals, while Richardson tested positive a month before she could have run. Richardson could still run in the 2024 Paris Olympics. She’s only 21, with some sprinters continuing to run well into their thirties. This suspension robbed both Richardson of a chance to run for her country, and it could have robbed the United States of a gold medal all over doing something perfectly legal.