The biggest scandal to hit the Bejing Olympics so far has been the reaction to the way Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva has been treated following a failed drug test, compared to last summer when American track and field star was pulled from the games.

Richardson took to Twitter to vent on the situation saying, “Can we get a solid answer on the difference of her situation and mines? 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.”

After noting the fact THC isn’t a performance-enhancing drug in a track and field setting, Richardson expressed her surprise at how long it took for Valieva’s test results from December that came back positive for trimetazidine to be made public. 

“Failed in December and the world just now know, however my resulted was posted within a week and my name & talent was slaughtered to the people,” Richardson said before following up with another tweet saying, “Not one BLACK athlete has been about to compete with a case going on, I don’t care what they say!!!”

The nation’s oldest marijuana reform organization was quick to back Richardson. 

“This situation is a stark example of how cannabis is still unjustly stigmatized compared to other substances, but more importantly how Black people are disproportionately vilified and penalized for cannabis use everywhere, from their homes to the international athletic stage,” NORML Political Director Morgan Fox told L.A. Weekly.  

Fox argued compounding this injustice is the fact Richardson was honest and forthright about her consumption of a substance that shouldn’t be on the Olympic anti-doping list in the first place and was prevented from competing entirely, while Valieva was allowed to compete after Olympic officials knew about her positive test. 

“Now Valieva’s team is promoting frankly laughable reasons for why an actual performance-enhancing drug was in her system and officials are giving her the benefit of the doubt,” Fox said of the alleged mix-up with her grandfather’s medication. “I wish the U.S. Olympic authorities had shown the same fervor in defending Richardson as they have in attacking Valieva, instead of throwing her to the wolves.”

Back in July, a couple of weeks after Richardson’s test results became public, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)CEO Travis T. Tygart said he wished there had been more options in Richardson’s case, but USADA’s hands were tied by the strict rules of its governing body, The World Anti-Doping Agency.

“As we’ve stated, these cases are heartbreaking for us. Hopefully, this case can be used as an example as to the reasons why it’s time to revisit the issue. While the new Substances of Abuse provisions allow for reductions in sanctions for recreational drug use not connected to sport performance, athletes remain responsible for all substances they ingest,” Tygart said. “And it is important to note that despite the social, legislative, and scientific debate around cannabis in the U.S., there is global input on the way the anti-doping rules are formed that may not fully align with American sentiment. Not every country is engaged in the same debate about marijuana that the U.S. is now.”

Following the Olympics, there is expected to be another months-long court saga to determine if the Russian figure skating team gold medal will be awarded to the U.S., who came in second. 


LA Weekly