Track star Sha'Carri Richardson will miss the Tokyo Olympics after U.S. Track and Field said Tuesday she would not be a member of the women's 4x100-meter relay team.
In a statement, the organization said it is "incredibly sympathetic toward Sha'Carri Richardson's extenuating circumstances and strongly applaud her accountability - and will offer her our continued support both on and off the track."
Richardson, 21, was suspended from the U.S. Olympic team on June 28 after she tested positive for THC, a chemical found in marijuana. As part of the agreement, Richardson will serve a one-month suspension, which means she will miss running the 100-meter race at the Olympics, where she was a fan favorite to win the gold medal.
On Friday, the day Richardson's suspension was publicly announced, U.S. Track and Field said in a statement that the track star’s "situation is incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved."
The decision prompted outrage on social media from people who wondered why the sprinter was being suspended for using marijuana, a drug typically known for its relaxation effects and which does not cause someone to run faster. However, the World Anti-Doping Agency has said that marijuana can be "performance enhancing.”
In a statement on Tuesday, U.S. Track and Field officials added that while the organization "agrees that the merit of the World Anti-Doping Agency rules related to THC should be reevaluated, it would be detrimental to the integrity of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track & Field if USATF amended its policies following competition, only weeks before the Olympic Games."
"All USATF athletes are equally aware of and must adhere to the current anti-doping code, and our credibility as the National Governing Body would be lost if rules were only enforced under certain circumstances," officials said in the statement. "So while our heartfelt understanding lies with Sha’Carri, we must also maintain fairness for all of the athletes who attempted to realize their dreams by securing a place on the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team."
At the women's U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Oregon on June 19, Richardson ran the 100-meter race in just 10.86 seconds. She failed a drug test that was administered after that race.
Before Tuesday's announcement, it was clear Richardson wouldn't be able to compete in her individual event. However, some fans held out hope she could be one of the discretionary runners picked to be part of a relay team, as determined by the USATF head relay coach in consultation with an advisory committee.
Richardson told TODAY Friday that she used marijuana in Oregon, where it is legal, and after being told her biological mother had died. She added that she was focused on herself and not her Olympic fate.
"Right now, I’m just putting all of my time and energy into dealing with what I need to do, which is heal myself," she told Savannah Guthrie. "So if I’m allowed to receive that blessing, then I’m grateful."