A petition to reinstate Sha'Carri Richardson on the U.S team for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics has gained over half a million signatures.
It comes just a week after the twenty-one-year-old was removed from the team after she tested positive for an active component of marijuana.
Prior to her removal from the team, Richardson had widely been considered a favorite to win a gold medal at the Olympics after she won the 100-meter dash, however, she was later disqualified.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) gave Richardson a 30-day suspension due to her test results.
Speaking on NBC's Today Show, Richardson explained that she used marijuana as a coping mechanism after finding out her biological mother had died.
"I apologize," she also added. "As much as I'm disappointed, I know that when I step on the track I represent not only myself, I represent a community that has shown great support, great love. ... I apologize for the fact that I didn't know how to control my emotions or deal with my emotions during that time."
“Don't judge me, because I am human… I just happen to run a little faster."
Sha'Carri Richardson (@itskerrii) speaks with @SavannahGuthrie about her failed drug test. pic.twitter.com/aZKTDhYn6Z
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 2, 2021
The petition states that "this world-class athlete" should be reinstated and "the outdated rules around marijuana and athletes" should be revisited.
"Sha'Carri Richardson is one of the fastest athletes in the world—and would have a real chance of winning the 100-meter sprint in the Summer Olympics this month. However, due to an outdated and arbitrarily enforced rule around marijuana, she's now going to be kept from competing on the world stage," the petition reads.
"In no world is marijuana a performance-enhancing drug for runners, and in more places in the United States and around the world, marijuana use is legal. The United States Anti-Doping Agency should drop their penalty and allow Richardson to compete! There are many reasons to have rules against performance-enhancing drugs, but this one is absurd.
"The imposition of a penalty against a world-class Black, queer, woman athlete is powerfully and infuriatingly reminiscent of the way drug laws are regularly applied in the United States. Recreational marijuana use has been de facto legal for upper-middle-class white people for years—something more states are recognizing as they legalize marijuana for all people and consider how to repair the damage done to Black and brown communities by decades of the 'war on drugs.'"
It also notes that Richardsons "one-month penalty is excessively punitive for an irrational, outdated rule."
At the time of writing, the petition has 567,087 signatures and is close to reaching it target of 600,000 signatures. Do you think Richardson should be reinstated into the Olympics?