She could have – make that should have – been a breakout star in an Olympics desperate for any kind of positive jolt. Sha’Carri Richardson has the look and she has the goods, and it wasn’t out of the question to picture her walking around Tokyo with a pair of gold medals draped around her neck.
That it won’t happen is as much Richardson’s fault as it is the doing of arcane doping rules. A few puffs of marijuana wouldn’t have helped her win the 100-meter race at the Tokyo Olympics, but they were enough to get her booted from the U.S. team even before it was officially named.
Was it fair? The answer likely depends on which prism you’re looking through when debating the use of marijuana. In Richardson’s case, it also involves considering the mindset of a 21-year-old who had just lost her biological mother and was on the verge of another life-changing event in the Olympics.
Clearly, she couldn’t have picked a worse time to smoke pot. The idea that she would jeopardize so much for so little is head-shaking at best – no matter how anyone feels about marijuana still being on the banned list on the Olympic stage.
Still, the price Richardson will end up paying will turn out to be outsized for doing what millions of Americans do legally every day. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime, especially because her only crime is that she violated doping rules that have nothing to do with upholding the integrity of her sport.
That means no gold medals. No prime-time television appearances, and no endorsement contracts bringing in millions of dollars.
Forget getting on a Wheaties box. Richardson won’t even get to the starting line in these games, and she’ll have three long years to wait before another Olympics comes along.