Sha’Carri Richardson questions Russian Olympian’s eligibility after failed doping test

Sha'Carri Richardson and Kamila Valieva
Sha'Carri Richardson and Kamila Valieva(MGN/AP)
Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 11:52 AM EST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, who was favored to win a medal in the women’s 100 meters, missed the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo after she tested positive for marijuana.

On Monday, the International Olympic Committee decided to allow Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva to continue competing in Beijing despite testing positive for a banned heart medication called trimetazidine, which can increase endurance.

The contradicting decision to allow the Olympian to compete despite failing a doping test did not sit right with the former LSU track star. She asked for a “solid answer” on the difference between Valieva’s case and her own.

“Can we get a solid answer on the difference of her situation and mines?” Richardson asked on Twitter. “My mother died and I can’t run and was also favored to place top 3.”

“The only difference I see is I’m a black young lady,” she wrote.

The only stipulation the IOC required is that no medal ceremony would be held for Valieva until her case is resolved. The International Olympic Committee, concerned that she could still be banned after a full investigation, said it would instead “organize dignified medal ceremonies” in the future.

She skated into first place in the women’s short program Tues., Feb. 15, and did not speak afterward. Her coach, Eteri Tutberidze, said on Saturday even though there are still many unanswered questions about the case, “we are absolutely confident that Kamila is innocent and clean.”

Kamila Valieva, of the Russian Olympic Committee, practices ahead of the women's short program...
Kamila Valieva, of the Russian Olympic Committee, practices ahead of the women's short program during the figure skating at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, in Beijing.(Source: AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Russian lawyers speculate Valieva’s drug test may have been contaminated by medicine her grandfather was taking.

“Whether it is fair, I am not quite sure,” said Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto, who sits in third place.

The test was flagged by a laboratory in Sweden for the banned heart medication but only emerged last week, after her two brilliant performances in the team competition helped win gold for the Russia Olympic Committee.

“Failed in December and the world just now know however my resulted [sic] was posted within a week and my name & talent was slaughtered to the people,” Sha’Carri tweeted. “Btw THC is definitely not a performance enhance!!!!”

The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that Valieva should be allowed to compete while anti-doping officials conduct a full investigation — in part because she is a minor and is subject to different rules from an adult athlete. They said suspension from Olympic competition would cause the 15-year-old “irreparable harm.”

Two years earlier, U.S. officials forced Richardson to skip the Olympics altogether.

“It’s all in the skin,” the American sprinter continued.

“I don’t remember anyone considering the ‘irreparable harm’ of suspending Sha’Carri Richardson for smoking pot to cope with her mother’s death,” sports reporter Clayton Collier tweeted.

Marijuana is considered a performance-enhancing drug by the World Anti-Doping Agency and is banned on race days but not outside of competition. Though research on the drug is limited, marijuana could be used, for example, as a relaxation aid before intense competitions.

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