Marijuana activists have organized a petition and rally today, July 15, in front of United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) offices in Colorado Springs to protest sprinter Sha'Carri' Richardson's exclusion from the Summer Olympics.
Richardson was the fastest woman in the 100-meter race at the U.S. Track and Field qualifying trials in Oregon, but tested positive for marijuana at the event, resulting in her disqualification and ban from the Tokyo games. The 21-year-old sprinter said she smoked marijuana when she was in Oregon, where recreational pot is legal, after finding out about the death of her biological mother.
Marijuana is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), so U.S. Track and Field was forced to give Richardson a one-month suspension on June 28, after she tested positive. The timeline made Richardson eligible for the 100-meter relay race later in the games, but U.S. Track and Field declined to include her on the Olympic relay team.
With states around the country legalizing recreational marijuana, there has been a public outcry over Richardson's suspension. Even the USADA called marijuana's place on the banned-substance list outdated, but the agency has to follow WADA rules during international competitions.
The USADA also currently bans marijuana use, but has expressed a desire to lift the prohibition, and marijuana proponents now want to hold the agency to its word. After collecting nearly 600,000 online signatures, organizers with MoveOn and the Colorado chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws are leading a one-mile run to USADA headquarters in Colorado Springs, where they will protest Richardson's Olympic ban.
"Sha’Carri Richardson is one of the fastest athletes in the world — and would have a real chance of winning the 100-meter sprint in the Summer Olympics this month. But due to an outdated and arbitrarily enforced rule around marijuana, she's now going to be kept from competing on the world stage," reads a statement from NORML. "With over 580k signatures, we are pivoting to putting pressure on decision-makers (USADA and IOC) to revoke the suspension of Sha’Carri Richardson, remove THC/marijuana from the banned substances list, and pivot to a broader push for federal legalization."
The run will start at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, July 15, at the Pikes Peak Greenway University Village Trailhead, 5050 North Nevada Avenue, and head to the USADA offices at 5555 Tech Center Drive, where organizers will deliver the petition, according to MoveOn.
Professional sports leagues have made progress in marijuana reform over the last few years, with the NBA and MLB no longer testing for marijuana and the NFL reducing disciplinary measures for players who test positive. International competition could take longer, though, as regulatory agencies dealing with worldwide contests must take drug policies and cultures from numerous countries into account.