Sha’Carri Richardson is probably the most talked about woman in sports and social media right now (Phylicia Rashad, a close second for her Twitter post in support of Bill Cosby’s release from prison, but that’s for another discussion). To no one’s surprise, opinions fall at extreme ends.
For those who don’t know by now, Richardson is an American Track & Field Sprinter in the 100 and 200 meter events. Last month, she qualified as a United States representative in the upcoming Tokyo games. But sadly, in less than a month, it was announced that she failed a marijuana test, following her qualifying 100-meter victory at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. Consequently, she was prohibited from running the 100-meter race at the Olympic games.
Before I get into this, let me make it irrefutably clear that this article in no way supports or condemns her actions or that of the Olympic committee. This is merely my opinion on the timing of her decision, whether right or wrong.
“It was only marijuana!” as most people put it. “It’s harmless!” One celebrity went so far as to state that marijuana, for all its uses, does NOT serve as a performance enhancer, particularly in running speed.
And I get it. I really do. With the legalization of marijuana in many U.S. states for medicinal purposes, more and more people rally ’round the flag when it comes to its use. Hell, you even see memes talking about how you never hear about driving accidents as a result of being “high” especially when you compare it to inebriation.
Let’s be honest. If people like it, they’re going to campaign on behalf of it.
I also read that she was using it to cope with the recent loss of her mother (someone told me that she learned about it during an interview, from the interviewer.). May she rest in peace and my condolences to her and his family. The loss of a loved one, particularly in your immediate family, can be devastating for most and should not be taken lightly. We process and cope in whatever way gets us through. Some bury themselves in activity, while others struggle to maintain, just as others suffer from psychological paralysis from the whole affair. Some drink, some talk, some cry, some self-isolate, some act out their pain and yes, some take to marijuana or other drugs.
What I question, as I mentioned earlier, is her decision to do so, KNOWING she could and would be tested for performance enhancers and any other illegal substances, prior to and during admission to the team.
I’ve been a safety director for 25 years and during that time, I’ve led countless plant-wide meetings where I either reminded that it was a drug-free facility, warned that there would be random drug testing or both. They sign the training packages during New Employee Orientation, acknowledging their understanding of the Workplace Drug Policy. We’d even brought in drug-sniffing dogs to one of my jobs. Our reason was to prevent the possession and use of illegal drugs because the end result was most often a serious workplace accident as a result of being under the influence. I knew people did it. I even knew most of the ones who sold or used them. That’s why I warned, time and time again, for them to cease usage and seek professional help, if need be, which our company often provided.
For many, that was enough of a deterrent because they needed their jobs. However for some, it seemed more like a challenge. They kept using, hoping to never be called during the previously unannounced random drug inspection. Of course, when they WERE summoned to the front office, they came in with excuses BEFORE even being tested:
- “I was at a party this weekend and people were smoking. I might have some second-hand reefer in my system.” (FYI – it is impossible to inhale enough, second-hand, to meet the minimum threshold of the test)
- “I had some muffins with poppy seeds. I think it’s gonna look like I was using.” (Uhhh, no. Not enough to trigger our alert.)
- “I smoked a long time ago, it might be in my system.” (You got THAT right, depending on the drugs, for which we’re testing.)
- “I resign.” (I died laughing when one of our employees said this. He knew that by resigning, he could apply for rehire, as supposed to being terminated for drug use. Clever guy.)
My point again – whatever the reason, you HAVE to know that if it’s a punishable offense on your job, the best course of action is to not indulge. And yes, I acknowledge that oftentimes, that is no easy task. I remember hearing that NFL running back Ricky Williams quit the league because he reportedly ‘loved marijuana too much to quit’.
Damn, that’s some serious love. Folks would sell their souls to make the pro leagues and he quit.
In the end, Sha’Carri had her own reason(s). Whether or not they are true, only she knows and we are in no position to decide or judge. So again, I pray for her peace and her professional situation, as I hope we all will.
I just know that when you have that rare opportunity to make something as infrequent and prestigious as the Olympics (which many people only get one shot at, considering their performance peak window), you have a decision to make. And you know the rules and how unforgiving the committee (and the haters) can be.
You have a decision to make.
I’m glad that so many people speak to support her and want the rules changed, or amended, or an exception to be made in her case, considering her situation. That’s love.
I personally want to see her compete, as she is a phenomenal athlete. But I also know that when you know the rules, yet make a conscious decision considering those risks, there is little-to-no defense when it all comes tumbling down.
It’s the reason I watch in sadness as people leave the job, without a job, for drug/alcohol use.
It’s the reason I sadly accept that I’ll have to wait until next time around to witness her exhibiting her God-given greatness in front of the whole world, haters, supporters and all…
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