Track star Sha'Carri Richardson is as forthright as she is fast.
Hours after news broke she would be suspended from the U.S. Olympic team for one month due to a failed drug test, the 21-year-old, a heavy favorite to win gold in the 100 meters at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, came clean in a July 2 interview with the Today show.
"I want to take responsibility for my actions," she shared of testing positive for marijuana, a violation of the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code. "I know what I did, I know what I'm supposed to do, I know what I'm allowed not to do, and I still made that decision." The choice, explained the NCAA champion, came after learning mid-interview that her biological mom had passed. Hearing that news from a reporter one week before the Olympic trials in Oregon sent her into a state of "emotional panic."
"It's definitely triggering," Sha'Carri adding that she was, "just blinded by emotions, blinded by bad news, blinded by just hurting." Unable to hide herself on the eve of such a career-changing race, "at least in some type of way, I was trying to hide my pain."
Sha'Carri first caught eyes across the nation on June 19 when she secured her spot on the U.S. Olympic Team after winning the women's 100-meter dash in Eugene, Oregon.
The young sprinter also issued an apology to those closest to her since her suspension means that she will most likely not compete in the women's 100-meter race in the Tokyo Olympics, but could possibly continue to run in the relays. "I would like to say to my friends, to my family, to my sponsorship—to the haters too, I apologize," she said. "As much as I'm disappointed, I know that when I step on the track, I don't represent myself. I represent a community that has shown me great support, great love."
Still, as she put it on July 1, immediately after reports surfaced of her suspension, "I am human."
In a statement issued on July 2, the USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) announced that Sha'Carri accepted the one-month suspension—as permitted under the applicable international rules—for an anti-doping rule violation for testing positive for the substance.
"The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking on many levels," USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said in the statement. "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."
The statement also outlined that the track star's positive test disqualified any race wins obtained on June 19, 2021, including her Olympic qualifying results at the Team Trials and she forfeits any medals, points, and prizes. It also noted that beyond the one-month sanction, athlete eligibility for the Tokyo Games is "determined by the USOPC and/or USA Track & Field eligibility rules."
As far as her future in track and field, Sha'Carri remains hopeful. "I'm very young," she explained. "Unlike most, I have plenty of games left in me to compete in, and I have plenty of talent that backs me up because everything I do comes to me naturally."