Citing fair play, USATF leaves Sha’Carri Richardson off the US Olympic team

Originally published at: Citing fair play, USATF leaves Sha'Carri Richardson off the US Olympic team | Boing Boing


So the USATF is hopping about the asshole train. Noted.


In a statement, USATF said it was “incredibly sympathetic toward Sha’Carri Richardson’s extenuating circumstances” and “fully agrees” that international rules regarding marijuana should be reevaluated.

So why can’t they do this first, THEN rule on Richardson?


Presumably engaging with the World Anti-Doping Agency to try to change their rules on marijuana would take months or years.


Members of American Olympics governing bodies should push for a new sport in tying one’s hands behind one’s own back. These powerful people have decades of experience claiming self-imposed helplessness.


“We were only following orders (we issued).” /s


Have the openly-cheating countries (Russian and China, mostly) started openly laughing yet?


The big giant fuck you is that they did. The pot rules were recently changed. The cut offs for testing levels were rejiggered with the idea that only tests indicating some one had been under the influence of Marijuana during competition would be a problem.

Since none of the official bodies seem to consider it a performance enhancer, the recent line is they don’t care about use in athlete’s off time.

I haven’t seen any indication they’re doing that properly though. Which seems to be exactly what happened to Richardson. Nobody is even accusing her of being high during competition or training. She just tested at some arbitrary line at an inopportune moment.


They really are making a great case for getting the NCAA treatment, aren’t they? If they are over-enforcing a rule like this and thus limiting the earning potential of a professional, then they are being anti-competitive. There is no collective bargaining agreement between athletes and USATF, therefore this arbitrary limitation of Richardson’s career is anti-competitive.


Pragmatically, nothing that requires changes to “international rules” will be done with any swiftness. If they start on it NOW, they might be able to have the rules changed for the next Olympics.

It’s a dumb, bullshit rule, especially considering how legal weed is in various parts of the world.

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I know this will be an unpopular post, but this seems like the right decision. Regardless what your views on marijuana criminalization, and its legal status where you live, in most countries around the world, and at the federal level in the US, marijuana is illegal, though it may be decriminalized. That probably won’t change soon, either, as weed criminalization is part of a web of anti drug-trafficking treaties world-wide.

As an Olympic athlete, Sha’Carri knew this. It is literally part of the price of admission to compete in the Olympics. Failure by the USATF to enforce this rule could have negative consequences on all US athletes, not just her. How could her performance be enhanced by weed? Who cares. The French would complain, the Swedes would complain, the Russians and Chinese would complain (hypocritically as they push the limit of undetectable performance enhancing chemicals) – any country with an athlete in her events which also criminalizes weed would complain, as they don’t have legal access to the substance, and therefore are at a disadvantage, real, perceived, or tactical.

@Ryuthrowsstuff 's post about recent changes to the rules change is interesting. Is this the US committee or the IOC? If the IOC, then yes, this is hugely unfair to Richardson. If USATF, then it is perhaps more complicated as, again, they are required to follow IOC rules, and failure to enforce could impact more athletes than just her.

It’s a reminder that the rest of the world isn’t as progressive about marijuana legalization as most boing boingers, that we need to follow the rules of different locations and organizations until they catch up with us, and they aren’t going to change their views just because cannabis use is legal in some US States. We need to agitate and apply pressure to affect change, however that pressure may be.


My issue is as follows. Prohibition and the war on drugs is a systemically racist enterprise rooted in explicitly racist motivations by those who began it. (And we’re not talking about performance-enhancing drugs, which is a different kettle of fish.) A governing sports body unwilling to go against the grain and defy unjust rules with racist origins and undercurrents because there would be consequences from other international sports governing bodies is sacrificing doing what’s right for doing what they’re told. I get they want to protect their other athletes, but throwing one under the bus to do so isn’t justified.

Put it this way. Substitute rules requiring racial segregation (once the norm) or discrimination against transpersons from various organizations or activities (still the norm). Would it be okay for the organization to simply follow those rules? the racist war on drugs might not be so explicitly discriminatory, but it very much is part of the same history and why in this case an athlete is being discriminated against for the use of a non-performance-enhancing substance.


No, no one is morally obligated to follow unjust rules.


That might be true for the 100 meters, but what about the 4x100 m relay which will take place after the term of her ban, which is the topic of THIS thread?

No, THIS ruling is capricious and malignant.


I agree, but one must also be willing to accept the punishment for violating that unjust rule. I don’t know the IOC rules on pot usage, and don’t have time to look them up right now, but if they put the entire US track team at risk for being banned because Richardson tested positive, then that is unfair to the athletes who didn’t test positive.

This is a complicated issue I deal with daily: I work for a federal contractor in DC, with employees from the DMV area where pot is either legal or decriminalized. We have to have a policy of no-marijuana use, in work or personal settings, as this could result in losing our federal contracts, and put hundreds of people out of work.

It sucks, and I disagree with it, but at the organizational level we are not ready to pay the price for not following this capricious law, and I am not willing to risk the jobs of my peers to openly flout those laws.


Both and the international anti-doping agency. She tested at an unspecified level for an unspecified pot component after a qualifying round and decisions and “investigations” have been following from all involved bodies.

I can see an active interest in preventing athletes from competing or training intoxicated. But this is regulated through and as a performance enhancing drug. Even though all parties acknowledge it doesn’t enhance performance.

Generally speaking these bodies are not involved in policing minor criminal behaviors, quality of life shit, or the personal lives of competitors. Outside of and apart from legal entanglements or serious scandals. Athletes do no not get barred for littering, jay walking, illegal fire works etc. And often enough for more serious actions that do result in legal action.

More over these bodies have also recently changed their rules around Alcohol. Even though alcohol and drinking are also illegal in many countries. Very few people would make this argument about alcohol.

Sporting authorities are not empowered to or obligated to enforce laws on athletes. None the less across state/national lines. And at no point and by no one are these rules predicated on doing so.

Richardson is not being penalized for smoking pot where it is illegal. Neither is she being penalized for cheating. The thing the rules she’s being held to purport to police. She’s being penalized because a test showed she smoked pot too close to competition. By a probably bad standard.


Why does that extend to defending other organizations at a structural level? I understand you not being willing to risk the jobs of people in your department, but that doesn’t mean you have to openly support the DMV’s stance on these issues. Likewise, you can join in the rest of us in decrying the Olympics. Because even if some individuals had to knuckle under to this stupid-ass ruling, but that’s just more reason why those of us who aren’t involved should be pressuring for change, and not trying to defend this horse-shit.


They obviously don’t. This is nonsense.

Whether she runs the relay is purely up to the US olympic track and field with no negative consequences from the IOC if they choose to let her do so.


Historically, track and field has practiced preventative banning of athletes. So, in the case of Richardson, she will have been drug tested at the olympics, and if she popped again, then the entire relay pool would be suspended from the competition (and retroactively revoked medals) too.

I agree that MJ shouldn’t be on the list, and it’s ridiculous that she was suspended at all… .but now that she has been suspended, putting her on a team anyway risks the rest of the team being suspended.


Well, I am because I believe throwing anyone under the bus of unjust rules to protect an organization is simply wrong. The USATF admits the rules are outdated. Maybe they didn’t consider the systemic discriminatory ramifications, but by now many many people have pointed it out to them. Standing by this decision shows a lack of integrity on their part, in addition to being immoral.

I would not want to be a part of any organization that would throw one of us under the bus of an unjust rule to protect the organization.