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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.
Richardson cannot run the 100-meter race at the Olympics, because the positive test disqualified her result clocked at team trials. USA Track & Field has not clarified whether she might still be allowed to run the 4×100-meter relay, which is scheduled after her suspension ends.
In a statement, USATF said Richardson’s suspension was “incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved” and added that it would ensure she had “ample resources to overcome any mental health challenges now and in the future.”
The national governing body did not immediately respond to NPR’s request for comment on her potential eligibility for the relay.
NPR’s Merrit Kennedy contributed to this report.