Fans outraged over Sha’Carri Richardson’s suspension from the Tokyo Olympics have signed their name to a petition.
MoveOn Civic Action, a progressive lobbying group, launched a petition on Friday, July 2 to allow Richardson to participate in the 100-meter dash.
In less than 24 hours, the petition amassed more than 200,000 signatures, NewsOne reported. By Monday afternoon, Richardson’s support more than doubled. As of Saturday, July 10, the petition had garnered over 575,000 signatures. The goal is currently 600,000 signatures.
“The imposition of a penalty against a world-class Black, queer, woman athlete is powerfully and infuriatingly reminiscent of the way drug laws are regularly applied in the United States,” the petition reads. “Recreational marijuana use has been de facto legal for upper-middle-class white people for years—something more states are recognizing as they legalize marijuana for all people and consider how to repair the damage done to Black and brown communities by decades of the war on drugs.”
Earlier this month, the U.S Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) formally announced Richardson’s acceptance of a one-month suspension following a failed drug test. According to the news release, Richardson tested positive for THC, an active ingredient in marijuana that gets you high.
“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 U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis T. Tygart in a statement.
Sha’Carri Richardson’s Suspension from Olympics Stirs Debate
The prevailing rules for marijuana use among athletes have continued to fuel intense debates on social media. Even New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez chimed in last week to support Richardson’s reinstatement. She teamed up with other lawmakers to request that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reverse Sha’Carri Richardson’s suspension.
“This punishment, which is not supported by any specific evidence, may prevent Ms. Richardson from competing in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics just after she inspired the country with her performance in the Olympic Trials last month,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter.
Last month, Sha’Carri Richardson became one of the fastest women in the country. She clocked an impressive 10.86 seconds during the women’ s 100-meter dash. After her victory, she informed reporters about her mother’s recent death. Her loss caused her to use cannabis as a coping mechanism.
“We urge you to reconsider the policies that led to this and other suspensions for recreational marijuana use, and to reconsider Ms. Richardson’s suspension,” the letter read. “Please strike a blow for civil liberties and civil rights by reversing this course you are on.”
Their decision lacks any scientific basis. It’s rooted solely in the systemic racism that’s long driven anti-marijuana laws. pic.twitter.com/F28c5ScI1D
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@RepAOC) July 3, 2021
U.S. President Biden weighed in on Richardson’s suspension saying “the rules are the rules.”
“And everybody knows the rules going in, but whether it should remain that way is a different issue,” Biden told reporters. “I was really proud of the way she responded.”
Petition Supports Updated Marijuana Rules for Athletes
The MoveOn Civic Action petition makes it very clear where the organization stands in the marijuana debate.
“In no world is marijuana a performance-enhancing drug for runners,” the petition highlights. “And in more places in the United States and around the world, marijuana use is legal. The United States Anti-Doping Agency should drop their penalty and allow Richardson to compete!”
Richardson isn’t allowing this setback to keep her away from her dreams. She has her eyes set on becoming a world champion next year.
“I’m sorry, I can’t be y’all Olympic Champ this year,” Richardson shared in a tweet. “But I promise I’ll be your World Champ next year.”
I’m sorry, I can’t be y’all Olympic Champ this year but I promise I’ll be your World Champ next year .
— Sha’Carri Richardson (@itskerrii) July 4, 2021