Sprinkles from the Left

⏰🚀 Ready, Set, Go: These opinions take 1.68 minutes to read.

Sha’Carri Richardson and other athletes who use cannabis should be allowed to compete. Professional athletes should not undergo cannabis testing in the first place. The U.S. Olympic Committee should exercise its considerable influence and have cannabis removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances

The Agency classifies substances as “prohibited” if they meet two of three criteria – that the substance is performance-enhancing, is a health risk to the athlete, or violates the ‘spirit of sport.’ I assert that cannabis does not meet this definition…

Some might argue that cannabis prohibitions in sports could serve an important public health role by deterring young athletes from using drugs. Data to back this assertion, however, are lacking. Many of the young athletes I work with as a doctor stop using cannabis when they anticipate being tested, and instead use at other times. In other words, drug tests change when – not if – they use substances. Conversely, I have watched many youth be harmed by being removed from activities they love because they used cannabis.

Dr. Scott Hadland, incoming head of adolescent medicine at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Harvard Medical School. (Published in USA Today)

What’s heartbreaking is seeing Richardson explain to the public how marijuana was a way to cope with her emotional distress in the wake of her mother’s death. What’s enraging is the fact that marijuana is legal in Oregon, where the Olympic trials were held, and there’s been no indication that marijuana is a sports-enhancing drug. If anything, marijuana would decrease one’s athletic performance, because it impairs judgment and movement. The World Anti-Doping Agency has listed the substance as a danger to athletes for this reason, but penalizing athletes who need mental health support only exacerbates the problem.

The issue to focus on is more than just antiquated approaches to cannabis but also the way Black women athletes face intense scrutiny in the media. These women are put on a pedestal because of their athleticism and what they represent as symbols enduring sexism and racism, but we forget that they too are like us, experiencing moments of intense grief, private pain and occasional lapses in judgment…

Richardson has apologized and taken responsibility for her actions, vowing to never again fail a drug test, but she shouldn’t have to be sorry for anything…

We hold athletes to impossible standards of perfection because they represent to us the best of the human spirit and work ethic. It can be easy to forget that life is messy and people aren’t always performing at their best.
Richardson’s gracious acceptance of the consequences and willingness to learn show the depth of her maturity and strengthen the example she sets for young people. She is human just like us, struggling through the loss of a loved one and trying to find ways to heal.

Jireh Deng (she/they) is a 2021 summer Editorial Pages and Op-Ed intern at the Los Angeles Times

Sprinkles from the Right

⏰🚀 Ready, Set, Go: These opinions take 1.60 minutes to read.

Let’s give Sha’Carri Richardson credit for this: She owned her mistake. She owned her failed drug test.

She didn’t blame spiked toothpaste, a pork burrito, the Cuban mafia or an angry ex-boyfriend (as others have). She blamed … herself. Who does that these days?…

Very predictably, the media is taking issue with the IOC’s inclusion of cannabis on its list of banned substances — Oh, the unfairness of it all. It’s archaic. That’s probably true, but IOC officials don’t care. It’s their Games, their rules. And Richardson, as she clearly stated, knew the rules and broke them anyway…

Richardson has been suspended 30 days (until July 27), which means her eligibility would be restored too late for her to compete in the 100-meter dash. She would return in time to compete in the 4 x 100 relay, but USA Track has not yet announced its plans for the event.

Let’s hope she is put on the USA relay team. Given her performance in the Olympic trials and the gracious, responsible way she has handled the failed drug test, she deserves that much.

Doug Robinson, Deseret News

Another controversy arose when American sprinter and Olympic gold-medal favorite Sha’Carri Richardson tested positive for marijuana use, which she admitted. She accepted a one-month ban. This effectively eliminated her from competing in the 100-meter heats at the Olympics. There can be a debate about the rule, or if cannabis should fall under an international doping policy for the International Olympic Committee. Federal and state drug laws in the United States had nothing to do with Richardson’s suspension. Yet many in media and the left began to push the debate on decriminalization immediately. President Biden defended the suspension by stating the rules and saying that the athlete should have known to abide by them.

It got racial, inevitably. Michael Eric Dyson, a noted professor and political commentator on race, took to Twitter to say: “Smoking weed ain’t the problem. It’s weeding out the hypocrisy of a nation that started a war on drugs to justify its assault on Black folk.” His tweet continued, “What we really need is to smoke out the racism that blunts the lives of too many of our people.”…

The IOC is based out of Switzerland. The current president is German and the only American who sits on the governing board of the IOC is an African American woman. That, of course, did not stop Dyson or several other media outlets and outrage mongers from using this incident as just another racial wedge to justify their petty grievances and causes.

Stephen L. Miller has written for Heat Street and National Review Online (Published in the NY Post)