CENTRAL LAKE, Michigan (REUTERS) – US President Joe Biden weighed in on the suspension of sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson over marijuana use, saying on Saturday (July 3) “the rules are the rules”.
The US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) confirmed Richardson’s suspension on Friday after the sprinter known for brightly-coloured hair and record-breaking speed tested positive for cannabis during her 100m US trials in June.
The women’s 100m event at the Tokyo Olympics starts on July 30, two days after Richardson’s ban ends but the adverse finding means her Olympic qualifying results at the trials, which offer automatic places to the first three qualified athletes in each event, are annulled.
“The rules are the rules and everybody knows what the rules were going in,” Biden said.
“Whether they should remain the rules is a different issue, but the rules are the rules.”
Richardson’s suspension provoked bipartisan critiques in Washington.
Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called on Usada to “strike a blow for civil liberties” by overturning the suspension.
“Let her compete, I’m pretty damn sure weed has never made anyone faster,” Donald Trump Jr, the former Republican president’s son, said on Twitter.
Cannabis is on the list of substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Usada said it reduced the typical three-month ban to one month because Richardson used cannabis outside of competition and she had successfully completed a counselling programme.
Richardson told NBC’s Today Show on Friday that the episode came as she was coping with her mother’s death.
“This incident was about marijuana, so after my sanction is up I’ll be back and able to compete and every single time I step on the track I’ll be ready for whatever anti-doping agency to come and get what it is that they need,” she said.
Biden said on Saturday he was “really proud of the way she responded”.