American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson apologized Friday for her positive marijuana test this week, saying she cannot run in the Olympic 100-meter sprint.
The 21-year-old star athlete accepted a 30-day suspension. She may be allowed to compete in the women’s relay events after the penalty expires.
Richardson told “Today” host Savannah Guthrie that she used the drug after a reporter confronted her with news of her birth mother’s death, but said she wasn’t looking for sympathy.
“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,” Richardson said Friday morning.
She was in Oregon at the time, where recreational marijuana use has been legal since 2015.
Richardson said she was shocked to learn from a stranger that her mother had died but that she did not blame the reporter, who was just doing his job.
“It was definitely triggering and blinding,” she said. “I know I can’t hide myself, so in some type of way, I was trying to hide my pain.”
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency confirmed Richardson’s suspension.
“The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking on many levels; 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,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement.
Richardson had secured her spot in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics by running the women’s 100-meter dash in just 10.86 seconds. She turned heads with not only her speed but also her style, running with bright orange, free-flowing hair and long fingernails.