The athlete, who may be unable to attend the Tokyo Games, explained that she used marijuana while in Oregon for the USA Track and Field Olympic trials to cope with the recent and unexpected death of her mother.
Sha’Carri Richardson Suspended
American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson has been suspended from the Olympic team for one month due to a positive marijuana test that has imperiled her ticket to the Tokyo Games.
The 21-year-old became an instant star at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, Oregon on June 19, where she qualified for the Olympics after winning the women’s 100-meter.
She immediately drew attention for her 10.86-second victory, making her a favorite to take home gold in Tokyo. She’s also caught eyes for her long hair and nails, vivacious personality, and an emotional moment when she ran into the stands to hug her grandmother.
In a statement announcing the suspension Friday, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said the 21-year-old failed the drug test taken following her first-place win in the event.
“Richardson accepted a one-month period of ineligibility that began on June 28, 2021, the date of her provisional suspension,” the statement said.
The sprinter was initially subject to a three-month suspension, the statement added, but her period of ineligibility was reduced “because her use of cannabis occurred out of competition and was unrelated to sport performance, and because she successfully completed a counseling program regarding her use of cannabis.”
Richardson’s suspension will be completed by the time the Olympic track and field competition starts, but the USADA said her positive test vacated her Olympic qualifying results, meaning she will be disqualified from running the 100-meter because USA Track and Field (USATF) picks team members for individual events based on their finish at the trials.
The top runner could still be chosen by Track and Field officials compete in the 4×100-meter relay, which is set to take place after her suspension ends. In a statement Friday, USATF said the situation “is incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved,” but it did not mention whether Richardson would compete.
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has also not publicly commented on her prospects of participating in Tokyo.
Richardson Addresses Ban
While speaking on the “TODAY” show Friday, Richardson took accountability and apologized to her fans, family, and sponsors.
“I greatly apologize if I let you guys down, and I did,” she said. “I want to take responsibility for my actions. I know what I did, I know what I’m supposed to do […] and I still made that decision. I’m not making an excuse or looking for empathy in my case.”
She explained that she used marijuana while in Oregon — where it is legal — for the trials, in order to cope with performance pressure and the unexpected death of her biological mother, which she said she was informed of by a reporter.
“To hear that information come from a complete stranger, it was definitely triggering, it was nerve shocking because it’s like who are you to tell me that?” she continued. “That sent me into a state of mind, a state of emotional panic. I still have to go out and put out a performance for my dream, go out there and still compete. From there, just blinded by emotions, just blinded by hurting.”
“Sitting here, I just say, don’t judge me, because I am human,” she added. “I’m you. I just happen to run a little faster.”
Marijuana Policy Faces Backlash
News of Richardson’s suspension sparked widespread criticism from users on Twitter, where the topic trended Friday morning.
Many people, including prominent politicians and fellow Olympians, condemned the marijuana ban.
“Marijuana being a banned substance in competition seems… outdated???? And unfair,” wrote Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon.
“There is no need for Sha’Carri to apologize,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) tweeted. “We need to get rid of archaic rules for a substance that is fully legal in 19 states plus DC.”
Some also pointed out the racialized history of marijuana, and noted other recent actions taken against Black competitors, such as multiple female African runners being disqualified for testosterone levels, as well as the Olympic Committee decision to ban swim caps designed for natural Black hair.
Others still applauded Richardson for her honesty and accountability, including Nike, her top sponsor.
“We appreciate Sha’Carri’s honesty and accountability and will continue to support her through this time,” the company said in a statement Friday.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (NBC News)
Privacy Concerns Rise in Florida Over Menstruation Questions on Digital Student-Athlete Physicals
Ever since the overturn of Roe V. Wade, activists have been concerned about how period tracking data can be used against women.
Outrage and Concerns
Florida schools require student-athletes to complete an annual physical evaluation form before being allowed to participate in sports, including questions about female menstruation. Recently, school districts have shifted these forms into a digital format using a third party, causing privacy concerns for parents and activists alike.
As headlines started to circulate the news, many online began expressing outrage. Lawyer Pam Keith, who ran for U.S. House of Representatives in 2020 referred to Florida as a “police state for women” on Tuesday morning. Other tweets have called this practice “dystopian” and “tramping on women’s rights.”
In Florida, these questions have been on the student-athlete physical evaluation form for approximately 20 years. Now that some school districts have shifted from paper copies to digital formatting with the third-party software company, Aktivate, criticisms have resurfaced across the state. Abortion rights activists, in particular, are worried about menstrual information being used to prosecute someone for getting an abortion. Others vocally oppose storing this information online, citing parents’ rights over their children’s data.
These questions relating to menstruation are labeled as optional on the document. However, some have expressed concern that athletes will feel obligated to answer them in order to ensure their eligibility to play.
Florida schools have all of the medical data collected by these physicals sent back to the district from the physician. This is in sharp contrast to the policy of other states that simply require the physician’s approval for the athlete to be cleared to play.
“I don’t see why school districts need that access to that type of information,” pediatrician Dr. Michael Haller said to The Florida Times-Union. “It sure as hell will give me pause to fill it out with my kid.”
See what others are saying: (Forbes) (The Palm Beach Post) (The Florida Times-Union)
Navy SEAL Recruits Sprayed With Tear Gas in “Horrific” Leaked Video
The revelation comes after the Navy launched an investigation into SEAL training practices last month in response to the death of a recruit.
The Worst Birthday Ever
In September 2021, Navy SEAL recruits were forced to sing “happy birthday” while standing amid a thick cloud of tear gas as part of their training, a leaked video reveals.
The footage, which was obtained by investigative reporter Mathew Cole and published by CBS News, comes from California’s San Clemente Island, where SEALs are trained.
For over a minute, instructors are seen dousing the recruits in the chemical, sometimes from just inches away, as they struggle to sing. Reports say they were singing so that they could not hold their breath, which regulations incidentally warn may cause a person to pass out.
Although exposure to tear gas is a common right of passage for military recruits, who must learn how to properly don a face mask, it is meant to be sprayed from six feet away to prevent burns and last for no longer than 15 seconds.
The recruits in the video are seen coughing, heaving, and crying out in agony after the gas subsides, and one appears to pass out.
A Navy admiral has reportedly launched an investigation into the video to determine whether the instructors sprayed the gas for too long and from too close, and if they did, whether they were simply unaware of the proper procedure or intended to abuse and punish the recruits, which could be a criminal offense.
Cole wrote in a Twitter thread that he showed the footage to current and retired senior SEAL officers, who described the exercise as “horrific,” “abusive,” “pointless” and “near torture.”
“Current and former SEAL students say they were told the purpose of the exercise, which cause extreme pain, was to simulate how they would react to bullet wounds in combat,” he said. “They were told by BUD/S instructors it was a ‘rite of passage’ and given three attempts to complete it.”
The Death of Kyle Mullen
“The source who provided the video did so because they wanted the Navy, Congress and the public to know that the February 2022 death of Kyle Mullen was not an isolated incident,” Cole Continued.
Mullen was a 24-year-old Navy recruit who arrived in California for the SEALs rigorous selection course in January. In his third week, he reached what’s known as Hell Week, a five-day-long slog through an infamously brutal training regiment that’s killed at least 11 men since 1953.
Trainees spend at least 20 hours per day doing physical exercises, running a total of more than 200 miles, and are allowed just four hours of sleep across the entire week.
Hell Week is meant to test a recruit’s mental and physical resilience, as well as their commitment to becoming a Navy SEAL. Critics, however, argue it is excessively harsh, pointing to the concussions, broken bones, dangerous infections, and near drownings suffered by some recruits.
When Mullen completed Hell Week, he called his mother Regina, who told CBS News her son seemed to be having trouble breathing.
A few hours later, he died with the official cause being pneumonia, which Regina attributed to the freezing water he was submerged in during training.
She also said he admitted to using banned performance-enhancing drugs, something many aspiring SEALs resort to so they can cross the finish line.
Even with drugs, however, around 90% of trainees fail to complete the selection course, with most dropping out during Hell Week.
The same day Kyle died, one of his fellow trainees had to be intubated, and two more were hospitalized.
The Navy launched an investigation into the SEALs selection course last month in response to Kyle’s death.
See what others are saying: (CBS) (NBC) (The New York Times)
Lawyer Claims That LAPD Officer Who Died In Training Was Targeted For Investigating Other Officers For Rape
The late officer’s family has filed a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles.
Press Conference Reveals New Allegations
A lawyer for the family of Los Angeles Police officer Houston Tipping, who died in May during a training exercise, claimed on Monday that Tipping was targeted for reporting an alleged sexual assault by four other police officers last year.
In May, Tipping sustained serious injury — including a broken spine — during training, which resulted in his death three days later. The LAPD released a statement saying his injuries came from a fall taken during a segment of training that involved grappling another officer.
His family, however, filed a complaint — and later a lawsuit — against the city of Los Angeles. The lawsuit states that Tipping was, “repeatedly struck in the head severely enough that he bled.”
During a Monday press conference, his family’s lawyer, Bradley Gage, claimed that the injuries Tipping sustained could not have been the result of grappling.
“There is no way grappling would have caused those kinds of injuries the way the LAPD portrays it,” he said. “What would cause those injuries is if somebody picked a person up, slams them down onto their head and their neck onto a hard surface.”
An Alleged Cover-Up
According to Gage, an officer that Tipping had reported last year for an alleged sexual assault was also present at this training exercise.
“The allegation is that in July of 2021, four police officers were involved in the sexual assault of a woman from the Los Angeles area. A report was taken by Officer Tipping,” he said. “And the female victim claimed that she was raped by four different people, all LAPD officers. She knew the names of some of those officers because they were in uniform and had their name tags on. The name of one of those officers, with the name tag, seems to correlate with the names of one of the officers that was at the bicycle training”
The attorney went on to confirm that he is alleging this unnamed officer is responsible for Tipping’s injuries.
Later in the press conference, Gage stated that the police department is likely trying to cover-up these misdeeds.
“I’m sure that these actions are being covered-up. The thought of a code of silence or a cover-up by a police department should not be shocking or surprising to anyone,” he said.
Although the initial lawsuit by Tipping’s family included the wrongful death and other civil rights violations, with this new information, the family and the attorney has decided to file a supplemental. This supplemental will cover the whistler blower retaliation, destruction of evidence, and the initial wrongdoing of the rape case.