Sports stars come together to support Sha'Carri Richardson

Sha'Carri Richardson celebrates winning the Women's 100 Meter final on day 2 of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 19, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

One week ago, Olympic Sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, also known as the fastest woman in the world, was potentially stripped of a chance to prove her incredible talents in front of a global audience. USADA issued a statement last Friday explaining Richardson had accepted a one month suspension, "for an anti-doping rule violation for testing positive for a substance of abuse." In the wake of her mother passing, Richardson admitted to smoking marijuana in Oregon, where recreational cannabis use is legal.

This week, U.S.A. Track and Field announced they would not be substituting Sha’Carri to the 4x100 relay team. Due to the date of the infraction for the failed test, Sha’Carri could have competed on the team and helped win Gold for the United States. However, USA Track and Field said in a statement they would not add Richardson, out of fairness to the athletes who did qualify for the relay team. "We must also maintain fairness for all of the athletes who attempted to realize their dreams by securing a place on the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team."

In past years, many stellar athletes have had their careers cut short due to their stance on consuming substances like marijuana. Legendary running back, Ricky Williams, was suspended multiple times for violating NFL rules prohibiting marijuana use. Eventually he decided it was a better decision to leave the sport for an extended period and pursue outside interests. 

EUGENE, OREGON - JUNE 19: Sha'Carri Richardson looks on after winning the Women's 100 Meter final on day 2 of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 19, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty I

Reflecting on his career, he recently stated his belief that he would have made the NFL Hall of Fame had it not been for the substance abuse policies the NFL had at the time. The NFL has since amended their policy, players are much less likely to receive penalties for their off-the-field substance use. The NFL continues to battle issues with player suicide, erratic behavior and painkiller abuse. In multiple medical studies, Marijuana has been proven to be a safer alternative to opiate based painkillers.

Former Golden State Warrior, Stephen Jackson, has a strong opinion on Richardson’s suspension from the 2020 Olympics. Jackson was quoted in a recent interview suggesting a boycott of the event, "If you all want to support Sha’Carri, and they don’t let her run, everybody boycott the Olympics. Why should we even be a part of the Olympics, representing a country that don’t love us?" 

NFL Pro Bowler, Odell Beckham Jr. shared similar sentiments on Twitter. 

The economics of the Olympics are a very complicated matter. The overwhelming financial success of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics changed the landscape of the games due to several factors, including the advertisement revenue from television broadcasts. NBCUniversal had sold more than $1.25 billion in ad sales for the games when they were first scheduled for 2020. NBCUniversal Chief Executive Jeff Shell says these could be the most profitable Olympic games to date.

The Olympics have always been a melting pot of athleticism, national pride and political frustrations. Gold Medalist Tommie Smith also weighed in on a potential protest in Tokyo. Smith is famous for being one half of the memorable Black Power salute in the 1968 games.

In a recent Los Angeles Times article, Smith said, "It is better to say it and to get it out then not say it at all." He continued, "I do think the athletes have a right to say whatever is on their mind, whether it’s agreeable to those who are watching or it’s thought of negatively. We are human beings."

In an interview with CNN, Ricky Williams reflected on Richardson as a potential advocate for drug reform shifts around the world. 

"I went from just being an athlete to being an advocate, and I think this is an opportunity for a young athlete to realize sports is a platform." Williams continued "she has a perfect opportunity with so many people in the world having this conversation. So I think she should be proud of herself."