Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) called on the International Olympic Committee to “reconsider” its anti-doping policy Friday following the suspension of US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson due to a positive test for a chemical found in marijuana at last month’s US Olympic trials.
“The criminalization and banning of cannabis is an instrument of racist and colonial policy,” the socialist lawmaker wrote on Twitter. “The IOC should reconsider its suspension of Ms. Richardson and any athletes penalized for cannabis use.”
Richardson, who won the 100-meter dash in a time of 10.86 seconds at the trials in Eugene, Oregon, June 19, was handed a one-month ban following the test result.
The suspension runs through July 27, which puts Richardson out of the race to be crowned the world’s fastest woman, though she could still run in the 4X100-meter relay at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
The 21-year-old sprinter has received widespread support from fellow athletes, politicians and everyday Americans after she acknowledged her suspension on NBC’s “Today” show and explained that she smoked marijuana as a way of coping with her mother’s recent death.
Following the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) relaxed the threshold for what constitutes a positive marijuana test from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150 nanograms per milliliter in an effort to detect use during competition rather than in the days and weeks before.
However, marijuana remains on WADA’s list of prohibited substances, with THC — the chemical Richardson tested positive for — classified as a so-called “Substance of Abuse” along with cocaine, ecstasy and heroin due to their use in society outside of a competitive context.
Richardson had what could have been a three-month sanction reduced to one month because she participated in a counseling program.
US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis T. Tygart said that while anti-doping rules are clear, Richardson’s suspension was “heartbreaking on many levels.”
Ocasio-Cortez also criticized the IOC over the International Swimming Federation’s (FINA) decision not to allow swimming caps specially designed to protect black competitors’ hair at the Games, with the lawmaker calling it “deeply troubling.”
The application by the British brand Soul Cap for its products to be recognized by FINA was rejected because the caps, which are meant to cover thick, curly and voluminous hair, do not follow “the natural form of the head, according to the governing body.
The Switzerland-based federation said Friday that it was reviewing the situation with Soul Cap and similar products while “understanding the importance of inclusivity and representation.”
With Post wires