Amid public outrage, a MoveOn petition calling for Sha’Carri Richardson to remain a participant in this month’s Olympic Games in Tokyo has received more than 500,000 signatures.
Last week it was reported that Richardson, who won the 100-meter race at Olympic trials in 10.86 seconds on June 19, would not be permitted to run in the Olympic 100m race after she tested positive for a chemical found in marijuana.
According to the petition, which calls on the United States Anti-Doping Agency to clear Richardson to perform in the Olympic Games and “revisit the outdated rules around marijuana and athletes,” marijuana is not “a performance-enhancing drug for runners.”
“Sha’Carri Richardson is one of the fastest athletes in the world—and would have a real chance of winning the 100-meter sprint in the Summer Olympics this month,” the petition states. “However, due to an outdated and arbitrarily enforced rule around marijuana, she’s now going to be kept from competing on the world stage.”
In no world is marijuana a performance-enhancing drug for runners, and in more places in the United States and around the world, marijuana use is legal. The United States Anti-Doping Agency should drop their penalty and allow Richardson to compete! There are many reasons to have rules against performance-enhancing drugs, but this one is absurd.
The petition also uses Richardson’s race to advance the claim that 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 concludes its plea by referencing the pandemic and saying Americans “deserve to see the best athletes in fair, open competition.”
“The world is coming together for a Summer Olympics postponed by a global pandemic, and we deserve to see the best athletes in fair, open competition,” the petition stated. “That includes Sha’Carri Richardson, whose one-month penalty is excessively punitive for an irrational, outdated rule.”
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency makes clear on its website that “all synthetic and naturally occurring cannabinoids are prohibited in-competition, except for cannabidiol (CBD).”
Richardson said if she is allowed to participate in the relay she would be “grateful, but if not, I’m just going to focus on myself.”