Athlete Sha'Carri Richardson Was Suspended From the Olympics After Losing Her Mom

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Jul. 2 2021, Published 2:36 p.m. ET

With the Olympic Games right around the corner, so many of us are at the edge of our seats to see who will represent the United States in this huge international sporting event. It seems like every day we're learning which athletes will compete, and we're getting that much more excited.

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One athlete, Sha'Carri Richardson, whom The New York Times calls "a gold-medal favorite in the women’s 100 meters" was one person who had secured her spot at the games in Tokyo, but now all of that is in jeopardy after she failed a drug test because she had weed in her system. It turns out that Sha'Carri used the drug to deal with her mother's death.

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Sha'Carri's biological mother passed away right before the Olympic Trials.

According to The Independent, Sha'Carri has been dealing with a lot in a short period of time. She won the 100-meter race in June 2021 after completing it in just under 11 seconds, but just a few days before, she was told by a reporter that her biological mother had passed away. Sha'Carri used weed, which is legal in the state of Oregon, to cope with the news and get through it all.

In an interview with NBC, Sha'Carri said that her biological mother had passed away a week before the Olympic trials began.

"This year has been crazy for me," she said. "Going from, just last week, losing my biological mother, and I'm still here. I'm still here. Last week finding out my biological mother passed away and still choosing to pursue my dreams, still coming out here and still making sure to make the family that I do still have on this earth proud," Sha'Carri continued.

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Sha'Carri failed her drug test because marijuana was found in her system.

Sha'Carri said that she used weed to cope with her mother's death, but she's not making excuses for her actions. "I know what I did. I know what I'm supposed to do, what I'm allowed not to do, and I still made that decision," she said in an interview with the Today show.

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The results of the drug test revealed that Sha'Carri had THC in her system, a chemical in marijuana. She has been suspended from the Olympic team, according to The United States Anti-Doping Agency. She's accepted a one-month suspension that began on June 28. The agency's CEO, Travis T. Tygart, said that this news is "heartbreaking" but that the rules are clear in that regard.

Michael Phelps has talked about smoking weed.

Sha'Carri's suspension has prompted many people to compare her experience to that of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. Back in February 2009, he apologized after pictures of him smoking what looked like a bong at a party became public. Apparently, the party took place three months after the Olympics games during a break from his training, according to ESPN.

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Michael never tested positive for any drugs his weed use did not ultimately have any negative impact on the eight gold medals he won during the games. In his apology, he said that he used "bad judgment" and he acted in a "youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me."

Many don't believe it's fair that Sha'Carri is barred from competing in the Olympics, especially since marijuana is now legal in many states in the U.S.

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Is weed legal in Tokyo?

The 2021 Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo, though, so how does the Japanese government feel about weed? Vice reports that Japan is one of the worst places to be caught with the drug. You can get some serious jail time for being caught with weed in Japan.

Japan’s Cannabis Control Act means that you can get up to five years in jail if you're caught with weed. You can get up to seven years if it's suspected that you were going to sell the drug, and there's a possible fine of $18,000.

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