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The doping rules that cost Sha’Carri Richardson have a debated, political history

Sha’Carri Richardson’s positive marijuana test left a marquee event of this month’s Tokyo Olympics without one of the United States’ most captivating athletes. It also represented a collision of Olympic bureaucracy, shifting attitudes toward cannabis internationally and domestically, and the unsettling endurance of criminal drug policies.

The suspension of Richardson, a magnetic athlete known for her technicolor hair, long fingernails and free-flowing interviews, left many U.S. fans saddened, stunned and confused. While some questioned why she would use a drug widely known to be on the list of banned substances, others wondered why a substance that a majority of Americans regard as harmless remains on that list alongside anabolic steroids and masking agents.

“I understand that the Olympics have the ability to sanction players based on conduct and for using performance-enhancing drugs, but there’s no evidence that cannabis is performance-enhancing,” Arizona-based physician and marijuana researcher Sue Sisley said. “This seems genuinely unfair that we continue to punish athletes based on a test that should not even be done. Why do the Olympics continue to test for THC at all?”

Richardson, 21, did not violate any codes pertaining to fair play. After learning of her biological mother’s death and facing pressure to perform at the U.S. Olympic trials, Richardson said, she used marijuana in Oregon, where it is fully legalized. But the World Anti-Doping Agency lists THC as a substance of abuse alongside cocaine, heroin and MDMA/ecstasy. It tests athletes for substances of abuse only during competition, not during training. [Read More @ The Washington Post]

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