Tokyo Olympics: Sha’Carri Richardson reportedly set to be banned after positive drugs test

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American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson could be out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after reportedly testing positive for cannabis.

First reported by Jamaica’s Gleaner newspaper, the news has caused shockwaves around the world of athletics. Richardson reportedly returned the positive test at the US Olympic trials last week, where the 21-year-old ran 100m in 10.86 seconds to qualify for Tokyo 2020.

A positive test during the trials would wipe all of Richardson’s results at the event. She could also serve a one to three-month suspension for the adverse analytical finding.

Cannabis is classified as a prohibited substance by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and currently carries a maximum four-year ban.

A suspension can be reduced to a period of three months if an athlete can prove the drug was used out of competition and it did not enhance their performance. According to WADA, the ban can be reduced by a further month if the athlete is willing to undertake an approved treatment programme.

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If the drug is taken in competition but the athlete can prove that the use was unrelated to performance, a two-year ban will be applied. 

Richardson has appeared to respond to the reports of the positive test on Twitter. She posted a cryptic “I am human” just before the news broke.

The star has set the world of sprinting alight since turning professional in 2019. Her recent performances had turned her into a serious medal contender for the 100m at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Richardson ran a personal best of 10.72 in April, making her the sixth fastest woman in history. Compatriot Florence Griffith-Joyner holds the world record of 10.49, set in 1988.

Her performance and emotional post-race interview at the US Olympic trials brought adulation from all quarters, including from Michelle Obama. The former First Lady of the United States posted: “If you haven’t seen it yet, Sha’Carri Richardson’s race at the Olympic Trials is something to behold—but her grace and grit in this interview might be even more special. We are all so proud of you, Sha’Carri! Can't wait to see what you do in Tokyo!”

Even if Richardson is absent from the Olympics this summer, the women’s 100m will still be stacked with talent. Jamaica’s three-time world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and reigning Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah will likely be among the final line-up.

World silver medallist Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith will also be in contention, having beaten Richardson and Fraser-Pryce in a Diamond League race in May. 

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