American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, who returned to action this weekend after a month-long ban, said that while her positive cannabis test kept her from competing at the Tokyo Olympics, she is happy it bought attention to her sport.
The flamboyant American sprinter was expected to be one of the biggest draws in Tokyo but her dreams were cut short due to a positive test at the U.S. Olympic trials in June after she had streaked to victory in the 100m.
Richardson’s ban dominated the storylines ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and while it cost her a potentially career-defining moment, she said some good came as a result.
“I’m glad for … the attention I was able to bring to the sport, whether it was negative or positive, for the simple fact that people are now watching,” Richardson said at the Prefontaine Classic in Portland, OR. “I know a lot of track and field athletes wish we had more attention in the sport, we wish people paid more attention.”
Richardson had a chance to prove her mettle on Saturday in the 100m that included all three Tokyo 100m medallists — Elaine Thompson-Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Shericka Jackson — over the same distance. But she finished ninth out of nine sprinters with a time of 11.14 seconds.
“It was a great return back to the sport,” Richardson told NBC. “I wanted to be able to come and perform having a month off… Not upset at myself at all. This is one race. I’m not done. You know what I’m capable of.”
Richardson won the U.S. trials in June with a time of 10.86 seconds and was aiming to become the first American woman to win the Olympic 100m crown since Gail Devers in 1996. Marion Jones won in 2000 but was later stripped of her title for doping.
After news of her positive test surfaced, Richardson said she used marijuana as a coping mechanism after learning about the death of her biological mother.
During a press conference where she sat alongside the trio of Jamaicans who swept the 100m podium in Tokyo, Richardson said she looked forward to the challenge.
“Two of the women sitting here are two of the fastest women to ever do this sport so I am honored to just be on the stage with them but I am not starstruck,” Richardson said in reference to Thompson-Herah and Fraser-Pryce.