U.S. track and field star Sha’Carri Richardson will be suspended for one month after testing positive for THC, the main psychoactive component of marijuana.
The result means she cannot compete in the 100-meter race at the Tokyo Olympics. She was seen as the U.S.’s best contender for a gold medal in the event.
“Don’t judge me, because I am human,” Richardson said in an interview with NBC’s Today show. “I’m you. I just happen to run a little faster.”
The 21-year-old accepted the monthlong period of ineligibility for the failed drug test beginning on June 28, according to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
“The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking on many levels; hopefully, her acceptance of responsibility and apology will be an important example to us all that we can successfully overcome our regrettable decisions, despite the costly consequences of this one to her,” said USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart in a statement.
The USADA said it reduced Richardson’s suspension to one month, the minimum allowed by the rules, because her marijuana use was unrelated to her athletic performance and occurred outside of competition and also because she successfully completed a related counseling program.
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Richardson said she used marijuana after learning that her biological mother had died just a week before the Olympic trials.
It was difficult “to have to go in front of the world and put on a face and hide my pain,” she told NBC’s Today Show. “Who am I to tell you how to cope?”
Richardson used the drug in Oregon, NBC Sports reported, where it is legal for recreational use.
The USADA considers THC — which is in cannabis, marijuana and hashish — a “substance of abuse” and prohibits it in competition.
Richardson cannot run the 100-meter race at the Olympics,