The American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, who was set for a star turn at the Tokyo Olympics this month, could miss the Games after testing positive for marijuana.
Richardson, 21, won the women’s 100-meter race at the U.S. track and field trials in Oregon last month, but her positive test automatically invalidated her result in that marquee event. It is unclear whether she will appeal the test result and the disqualification, or how long her suspension will be. It could be as short as one month. The suspension was confirmed by two people with knowledge of the test results who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the situation.
U.S.A. Track & Field has notified other women who competed in the 100-meter trials final about the failed drug test, according to one person with direct knowledge of the information, and several runners have been told that they have moved up a spot in the final standings.
Jenna Prandini, who placed fourth at the trials, has been notified that she will now be one of the three American women running the 100 meters in Tokyo, and Gabby Thomas, who finished fifth at the trials, was named as an alternate for the race, the person said.
It’s possible that a one-month ban for Richardson could be set to begin at the time of her positive test at the trials, allowing her to return to competition just before the Olympics, which begin on July 23. Track and field at the Games does not begin until July 30.
News of the positive test was first reported by The Gleaner, a newspaper in Jamaica.
Richardson was expected to compete in the 200 meters at a Diamond League meet in Stockholm on Sunday, but she was not listed on the event’s entry list Thursday night. She has not commented on the positive test, but early Thursday afternoon she cryptically tweeted, “I am human.”
While Richardson’s suspension could be over by the time the Olympics begin, the positive test wiped her Olympic trials performance from the books. Unlike the Olympic selection processes of some other countries, U.S.A. Track & Field’s procedures leave little room for discretion over who qualifies. They dictate that the top three finishers in a given event at the trials qualify for the Olympics, provided their performances reach the Olympic standard.
It is possible that Richardson can still compete in the 4×100-meter relay even if she is ruled out of the individual race. The decision would be up to U.S.A. Track & Field, the national governing body of the sport.
Up to six athletes are selected for the country’s relay pool, and four of them must be the top three finishers in the 100 meters at the Olympic trials and the alternate. The governing body names the remaining two members of the relay pool.
Representatives for U.S.A. Track & Field did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Neither did officials from the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the Athletics Integrity Unit, the independent antidoping arm of World Athletics, the global governing body of track and field. Renaldo Nehemiah, Richardson’s agent, did not respond on Thursday to a phone call or a text message.
Marijuana is on the World…