President Joe Biden said he was “really proud of the way” US track and field star Sha’Carri Richardson responded following a positive drug test and subsequent suspension that will prevent her from running in her signature event for Team USA in the Olympics later this month, but that “everybody knows the rules going in.”
“The rules are the rules,” he said Saturday at an event in Michigan. “Whether they should remain the rules is a different issue, but the rules are the rules.”
Richardson had secured her spot at the Tokyo Olympics with a runaway victory in the women’s 100m at the US Olympic Track and Field trials last month. She was suspended one month from the Olympic team after testing positive for THC, a chemical found in marijuana, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced on Friday.
Richardson’s Olympic trials results were automatically disqualified following the positive test, and she will not be allowed to participate in the 100m race at the Olympics later this month.
“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 press release Friday.
It’s unclear whether Richardson will miss the Games altogether. She may still be eligible to compete in another event besides the 100m, such as the 4x100m relay. CNN has reached out to Team USA for clarity.
“I will also note that Sha’Carri Richardson is an inspiring young woman, who went, has gone through a lot personally, and I think, she also happens to be one of the fastest women in the world, and that’s an important part of the story as well,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday. “So, this is an independent decision by the US Anti-Doping Agency, but I also felt it was important to note who she is and her history.”
For her part, Richardson appeared on NBC’s TODAY Show on Friday morning and said: “I just want to take responsibility for my actions, I know what I did, I know what I’m supposed to do, I’m allowed not to do and I still made that decision. I’m not making an excuse or looking for any empathy in my case.”
Richardson cited finding out from a reporter that her biological mother had passed away as part of the reason she consumed marijuana, saying: “I was just thinking it would be a normal interview and then on the interview to hear that information come from a complete stranger, it was definitely triggering, it was nerve shocking because it’s like who are you to tell me that?
“From there just blinded by emotions, blinded by bad news, blinded by just hiding hurt, honestly for the fact that I can’t hide myself, so at least in some type of way, I was trying to hide my pain.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the USADA label cannabis as a banned substance as it “poses a health risk to athletes, has the potential to enhance performance and violates the spirit of sport.”
“Everything I do comes from me naturally. No steroid(s). No anything. This incident was about marijuana. After my sanctions are up, I’ll be back and able to compete and every single time I step on the track I’ll be ready to compete for whatever anti-doping agency to come and get what it is that they need,” Richardson concluded.
“Sha’Carri Richardson’s situation is incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved,” USA Track and Field said in a statement. “Athlete health and well-being continue to be one of USATF’s most critical priorities and we will work with Sha’Carri to ensure she has ample resources to overcome any mental health challenges now and in the future.”
CNN’s Donald Judd contributed to this report.