Sha'Carri Richardson Calls Out Olympic Committee's Double Standard
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Sha'Carri Richardson Calls Out Olympic Committee's Double Standard

by Hedy Phillips

Sha’Carri Richardson made headlines last summer when she turned in crazy fast times in the Olympics qualifiers. She made even bigger headlines when she was left off the team after a routine drug screening showed recent cannabis use. But now Richardson wants to know why a Russian figure skater, who tested positive for a banned substance, will still be allowed to compete in the current Olympics.

The executive board of the International Olympic Committee decided Monday that 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva, who tested positive for a banned, performance-enhancing drug on Christmas Day last year, would still be allowed to compete at the Beijing Games. The investigation, however, is not yet complete, and if Valieva happens to place, no medal ceremony will happen, in case the investigation deems her ineligible.

As Richardson points out, though, she wasn’t even allowed to compete because of her marijuana usage, which she said at the time was something she used as a coping mechanism after the death of her mother. And after today’s decision on Valieva, Richardson wants to know why she was held to a different standard.

The track and field star shared a number of tweets and retweets on the story, starting by asking for a “solid answer.” She wrote, “Can we get a solid answer on the difference of her situation and mines? My mother died and I can’t run and was also favored to place top 3. The only difference I see is I’m a black young lady.”

She followed that up by correctly pointing out that THC, which is what she tested positive for, is not a performance enhancing drug, but Valieva's positive drug test showed trimetazidine, a heart medication that could boost stamina, according to NBC News. Richardson also wondered why Valieva's drug test from December is just now being called into question when her own was put on blast within days of it happening. She added that at the time, her “talent was slaughtered to the people.” And while it’s a fair assessment to point out that her case was handled in the United States and Valieva's is a Russian case, the rules for Olympics are global.

The Associated Press noted that Valieva's ruling was due in part to the fact that she’s a minor, with the governing body calling her a “protected person” who is essentially not subject to the same rules as an adult. “The panel considered that preventing the athlete to compete at the Olympic Games would cause her irreparable harm in the circumstances,” CAS Director General Matthieu Reeb said.

Richardson's supporters — as well as those who want a clean, fair Games — are understandably angry by this ruling as it seems incredibly hypocritical. We were already calling out the double standard last summer and now it feels even more obvious — hopefully the IOC will do better.

Photo via Getty

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