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)
Couple Slammed Over Slavery-Themed Pre-Wedding Photoshoot
Many have expressed outrage at the duo for trying to romanticize slavery while others were left completely dumbfounded by the entire ordeal.
Photoshoot Goes Viral
A couple has come under fire after sharing images on Instagram from their slavery-themed pre-wedding photoshoot.
The photos show a Black man in shackles looking deeply into his white fiancé’s eyes before she works to releases him.
“1842. Days passed and everything changed, our love got stronger and stronger, he was no longer a slave, he was part of the family,” the post’s caption reads.
To indicate his transition from “slave” to family, a fourth image shows him wearing a long coat and top hat with well-shined shoes, as opposed to the white shirt, trousers, and straw hat he wore in the previous images.
Social Media Users React
It’s not immediately clear who these people are since the social media handle is redacted in the images circulating online.
Still, many have expressed outrage at the duo for trying to romanticize slavery while others were left just completely dumbfounded by this entire ordeal. Some also directed criticism at the photographer who agreed to the shoot, along with the hundreds of Instagram users who liked the original posts.
To see people romanticize this shit is infuriating – these people are too much. There is no such thing as slave consent and the sexual abuse of male slaves was real.— Nurse Elise 🌒 (@EliseRootedMind) July 21, 2021
There were three people there counting the photographer and not one thought should we? And over 1400 people hit the like button? And it’s part 2 like there’s more? I so want to be at the wedding when minister asks if anybody objects.— Randi Pro Democracy (@RandiKinman) July 21, 2021
See what others are saying: (The Daily Dot) (Black Enterprise) (BET)
Couple Whose Gender Reveal Sparked CA Wildfire Hit With 30 Charges, Including Involuntary Manslaughter
The fire, which caused massive damage and took months to extinguish, also killed the head of an elite firefighting team.
Gender Reveal Sparks Deadly Wildfire
A couple whose gender reveal party sparked the El Dorado wildfire in Southern California earlier this year has pleaded not guilty after they were hit with 30 charges, authorities said Tuesday.
Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez triggered the fire in Yucaipa on Sept. 5 with a smoke bomb that exploded in especially dry and hot conditions.
By the time the fire was extinguished in November, it had burned over 22,000 acres of land, injured more than a dozen people, forced hundreds of evacuations, and destroyed at least 10 structures.
The blaze also took the life of 39-year-old Charlie Morton, the leader of an elite firefighting team who worked as a firefighter for 18 years.
“He’s fighting a fire that was started because of a smoke bomb. That’s the only reason he’s there,” San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson said at a news conference.
Charges Include Involuntary Manslaughter
Authorities have charged the couple responsible for the wildfire with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter, three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures, and 22 misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing fire to the property of another.
The charges were filed after a grand jury heard 34 witness interviews over four days. A total of 434 exhibits were ultimately presented to the grand jury, leading to the indictment that was unsealed Tuesday.
After entering their not guilty pleas, the duo was released on their own recognizance until their next scheduled court date. CBS Los Angeles reported that they could face up to 20 years each if convicted as charged.
“You’re obviously dealing with lost lives, you’re dealing with injured lives, and you’re dealing with people’s residences that were burned and their land that was burned. That encompasses a lot of, not only emotion, but damage, both financially and psychologically,” Anderson explained at the press conference.
He also stressed that part of the reason the investigation and ultimate prosecution took so long was because authorities wanted to make sure justice was fully served.
“Given the scope and the impact of the El Dorado Fire on the land and lives of so many, particularly Charles Morton and his family, it was imperative that every investigation be completed within both federal and state agencies to provide a full, fair presentation to the members of our community,” he said.
Los Angeles County Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate Amid Rising Cases
The renewed restrictions for the nation’s largest county come as coronavirus infections have been spiking across America, with new cases doubling in the last two weeks.
L.A. County Masks Up, Again
Starting Saturday, Los Angeles County will require people to wear face masks indoors again regardless of vaccination status as the nation’s most populous county grapples with a surge of COVID-19 cases.
In a press conference Thursday, L.A. County health officials pointed to low vaccination rates, a steady climb in new infections, and the rapid spread of the highly transmissible delta variant as driving factors behind the decision.
“We’re not where we need to be for the millions at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something will be too late given what we’re seeing now,” county Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said. “This is an all-hands-on-deck moment.”
Without providing full details, Davis said there would be some exceptions to the restrictions, including people being allowed to take off their masks while eating and drinking at restaurants.
The move comes as community transmission in the county has skyrocketed since June 15, when California reopened its economy and ended capacity limits, along with social distancing guidelines.
For the week-long period ending on that date, L.A. County had averaged 173 new coronavirus cases a day. Exactly one month later, those numbers have increased by nearly 580%, with the county reporting an average of 1,176 infections a day for the seven-day period ending July 15.
On Thursday, officials logged over 1,537 more cases — the highest figure since early March. Around 70% of COVID samples in the county from June 27 to July 3 were identified as delta variants.
Notably, the vast majority of those impacted have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus. According to reports, between Dec. 7 and June 7, unvaccinated people made up 99.6% of L.A. County’s COVID cases, 98.7% of hospitalizations, and 99.8% of deaths.
Only five million of the more than 10 million residents in the county have been inoculated against the virus.
Cases Surge Across U.S.
L.A. County is not the only locality that has seen a spike in COVID cases, though it is one of the few that has taken firm action.
New cases largely driven by the delta variant, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says now accounts for nearly 60% of all infections in the U.S., have more than doubled in the last two weeks, according to The New York Times tracker.
The 14-day average has risen dramatically from 12,799 on July 1 to 28,315 on July 15.
According to The Times, 49 states have seen at least a 15% increase over the past 14 days, and 19 of those states are reporting double or more the number of new infections. Full outbreaks, largely concentrated in the South, have emerged in a number of states with low vaccination rates.
In the last two weeks, Arkansas, which is currently reporting the highest per capita COVID cases in America, has seen increases of 120% for new cases and 77% for hospitalizations. Florida and Tennesee have seen the most significant 14-day spikes in terms of population percentage, reporting surges of 232% and 373% respectively.
Some states and counties have begun to make additional safety recommendations. Officials in Mississippi, where cases have risen over 70% since July 1, have urged both vaccinated and unvaccinated senior residents to avoid large indoor gatherings.
Health officials in California’s Sacramento and Yolo counties also issued voluntary warnings this week for all residents to wear masks while indoors.
However, it remains to be seen whether more localities will reimpose mandatory requirements or restrictions as cases continue to swell and the delta variant proliferates.
Rising cases in the U.S. and abroad also pose a more long-term threat to global efforts to fight the pandemic. On Thursday, the World Health Organization warned that the influx of new cases in many parts of the world will enhance the likelihood of more severe variants emerging that will be difficult to control with vaccinations.
The WHO also urged wealthier countries like the U.S. — where just over 50% of people are vaccinated despite the existence of supplies for all those eligible — to send more jabs overseas.