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4 Jul, 2021 04:25

‘Rules are rules’: Biden wades into US sprinter’s cannabis ban as anti-doping body accused of RACISM

‘Rules are rules’: Biden wades into US sprinter’s cannabis ban as anti-doping body accused of RACISM

President Joe Biden sided with the US Anti-Doping Agency, which suspended rising US sprint star Sha’Carri Richardson for one month after testing positive for marijuana, but said he’s proud of how she handled the situation.

Asked whether Richardson’s ban, which will likely cost her a spot in the women’s 100-meter event at the Tokyo Olympics, was fair, Biden said: “The rules are rules.”

“Whether they should remain the rules is a different issue, but the rules are the rules,” Biden said, while praising Richardson, who admitted she had used marijuana to cope with the death of her mother, for the way she responded.

The 21-year-old clocked 10.86 seconds as she dominated the 100m race in the US Olympic trials in Oregon last month. However, after her test for marijuana – a banned substance under the rules of the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) – returned positive earlier this week, her sizzling qualification result was nullified. 

Richardson agreed to receive counselling and was given a 30-day ban effective from June 28. The ban expires before the 100m event is set to take place on July 30 and before the start of the women’s 4×100 relay. However, with Richardson’s result at the trial run removed from the protocol, her individual spot will likely be taken by the 4th place finisher, since the first three athletes at the trial automatically qualify for the Games.

Richardson can still compete in the relay. Speaking to NBC on Friday, she said she would be grateful if Team USA hand-picks her for the relay, but typically it’s the qualifying runners who make the team.

Also on rt.com ‘Don’t judge me’: US sprint star facing ‘heartbreaking’ Olympics ban after testing positive for cannabis in wake of mother’s death

Commenting on the ban, Richardson said she was in a state of emotional turmoil when she resorted to marijuana to deal with the loss of her biological mother, who died just a week before the trial. What made matters worse, Richardson said, is that she found out about her mother’s passing from a reporter.

Richardson’s suspension weeks before the Olympics not only sent shockwaves across the US sporting community, but prompted bipartisan criticism and even accusations of systemic racism.

Democratic Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamie Raskin wrote a letter to USADA and WADA, calling the ban a result of “USADA’s antiquated prohibition on the use of cannabis.” Pointing out that cannabis is not a performance-enhancing drug, the lawmakers argued that the fact WADA does not ban 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.”

Weed-enthusiast and entrepreneur Seth Rogen was even more outspoken in his criticism, tweeting that “The notion that weed is a problematic ‘drug’ is rooted in racism.” He went on to say that it’s “insane” for Team USA to boot Richardson “over thinking that’s rooted in hatred.”

“It’s something they should be ashamed of. Also, if weed made you fast, I’d be FloJo,” he said in the post, which quickly went viral.

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