On Friday, The United States Anti-Doping Agency confirmed the positive test result and announced that Richardson had accepted the suspension. The ban, which was reduce to one month as the substance isn’t performance related, subsequently invalidates her crowd-stunning 10.86 stat and qualifying win at the U.S. trials in June. Although the nation hotly anticipated Richardson’s potentially gold-winning Olympic sprint, there’s still hope that the 21-year-old will be cleared just in time to run in the 4×100 meter relay.
“The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking on many levels,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement, lamenting the unexpected suspension. “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.
In an exclusive interview with NBC’s Today Show, Richardson revealed that the cannabis use was a coping mechanism to grapple with the sudden grief of losing her biological mother just one week prior to the Olympic trials. Raised by her grandmother, Richardson further explained that she received the shocking news from a reporter during an interview. “It sent me into a state of emotional panic,” she said. “I didn’t know how to control my emotions or deal with my emotions during that time.”
Just a few weeks ago, as she eclipsed some of the fastest times in history, America rooted not only for her record-shattering speed but her artful defiance, unshakable confidence and resilience. And even in the wake of the news, celebrities and supporters alike have decried the suspension as an instance of upholding archaic rules that don’t concern sports performance. In a message to her fans and family, Richardson continued, “I greatly apologize if I let you guys down, and I did.”