sports

Richardson’s One Month Suspension Should Go Up in Smoke

ROBBINS NEST, The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com

By Lenn Robbins

Let me make sure we’ve got this straight. US track and field star Sha’Carri Richardson has been suspended for one month from the Olympic team – which means she can’t compete in the Olympics – after testing positive for THC, a chemical found in marijuana.

Friends, uh, tell me that marijuana also known as ganji, reefer, weed, cannabis, mary jane, pot, herb, burn, grass, slows you down or chills you out.

It is not a performance enhancing drug, rather a performance enhazing drug.

Why would an Olympic athlete, whose goal is to be the fastest she can be, take a drug that slows you down? According to Richardson, her mother had recently passed away and she was stressed out.

“Don’t judge me because I am human,” she said on the Today Show.

That’s exactly, preposterously what the United State Anti-Doping Association (USADA) did. It suspended her for the most important month in an Olympic hopeful’s life.

“The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking on many levels; hopefully, her acceptance of responsibility and apology will be an important example to us all that we can successfully overcome our regrettable decisions, despite the costly consequences of this one to her,” USADA’s CEO Travis T. Tygart said in a bogus press release.

What planet does he live on?

He reportedly lives in Colorado which is so marijuana friendly it was one of the first states to list “cannabis tourism,” as an industry. John Denver was way ahead of the curve with his hit, “Rocky Mountain High.” Never mind.

Richardson did apologize for her “regrettable” decision.

“I know what I did, I know what I’m supposed to do, I’m allowed not to do and I still made that decision,” said Richardson. “I’m not making an excuse or looking for any empathy in my case.”

In the name of all good toking Americans, what kind of apology is that?

There was no attempt at spin-doctoring; no blaming someone else; no accusation that her specimen was tampered with or somehow tarnished. She smoked. She inhaled. She’s sorry.

In other words, she did not react like so many actual cheaters that have come before her and thought nothing about lying, rule-bending and obfuscating from Ben Johnson, to Ryan Braun to everyone’s favorite cheat – Lance Armstrong, who Tygart helped bring down.

Did we mention that Richardson is 21? She’s not a child, so, yes, she’s responsible for her actions. But neither is she an emotionally and physically mature woman.

She exists in that state of bliss known as immortality, which afflicts those under the age of say, 25, or over the age of 50, with a good plastic surgeon. Consider her following statement on missing out on, what is for many athletes, a once in a lifetime opportunity:

“This is just one game,” Richardson said. “I’m 21. I’m very young. Unlike most, I have plenty of games left in me to compete in … So after my sanction is up, I’ll be back and able to compete.”

Lord do we hope she gets to compete in future Olympics and wins so much gold she can have one of her medals smelt and smoked in a pipe, which friends, uh, tell me is one way of inhaling marijuana.

 But what if she isn’t as blissfully indestructible as she believes? What if she suffers a career-ending injury, or another pandemic forces the cancelation of the next games or she gets food poisoning during the trials?

This just in: life is random.                                                 

Being suspended for one month doesn’t seem like much. It would cost an NFL player four games. He’s got 14 more this upcoming season. Miss the Olympics and you have to wait another four years.

These Olympics, of course, have much bigger problems than one athlete smoking pot. Again, friends have told me marijuana also can be ingested in brownies. This is news to me although I have no idea what that half-empty glass of milk is doing on my night table.

These Olympics, which 83-percent of those polled in the host nation Japan oppose because the coronavirus pandemic, is not nearly as under control as we’re pretending it is. So the games go on but a young, potentially medal-winning athlete (Richardson won the 100 meters) can’t compete because she took a toke.

She didn’t guzzle a quart of vodka and play Danica Patrick on the streets of Eugene, Ore., where the Olympic trials were held and where pot is legal. Pot is not legal in Japan but we’re confident Richardson has learned her lesson and doesn’t have a baggie of the stuff hidden in Team USA duffle bag.

Most clear-thinking Americans would agree on this: People make mistakes. Hopefully they don’t commit the same mistake twice. This is also known as learning.

With all due respect to Tygart’s rulebook, which we suspect he can recite chapter and verse, unless, of course he was to test positive for THC, maybe it should be a more inhalable, uh, breathable treatise. Maybe it should allow the enforcers of this book to consider all the factors that went into an athlete testing positive for a banned substance and mete out a punishment more commensurate with the violation.

What we have here is a young woman, with no reports of previous positive tests, who smoked or ingested some marijuana after learning of the death of her mother. She didn’t gain a competitive edge. In fact, if she went to a doctor and explained her situation, she might likely have gotten a prescription for the drug and we wouldn’t have gotten to know more about Sha’Carri Richardson until she competed in Tokyo.

Surely there is a more constructive way for Richardson to be penalized. She could speak to high school and junior high school athletes about her experience or volunteer at a medical marijuana dispensary.

Or she can be suspended on, oh say, Jan. 1st when friends tell me a lot of people would test positive for a performance enhazing drug. The way it stands now, this is, as my friends would say, a bummer man.

EURO 2020 – OBSERVATIONS FROM A FLEDGLING SOCCER FAN: I am not saying watching these thrilling EUFA 2020 matches has had a weird effect on me but the other day I got tangled up in my dog Linsey’s leash and tripped. I grabbed my ankle and began howling in pain as I looked around in vain for an official holding up a yellow card.

Like many fledgling soccer fans, I’m not certain when or if a player is truly hurt or faking it. The best evidence that it’s the latter comes courtesy of the Italian team in its 2-1 win over Belgium.

Watch Italy’s appropriately named Ciro Immobile (No.17), who is quite immobile and down on the pitch, holding his right ankle and seemingly badly injured – until: Teammate Nicolo Barella’s scores in the 31st minute, giving Italy a 1-0 lead. Immobile has his head turned, giving him a perfect view of the goal. Suddenly he rises like a phoenix, showing no sign of any discomfort, no less injury. Brilliant!

We’d like to suggest the Phoenix Award, sponsored by, oh say, the International Private Physical Therapy Association (IPPTA), “We Get You Back on Your Feet,” and presented annually to the soccer player who best feigns an injury. We’d certainly offer the award to men and women but women are tougher and don’t engage in these theatrics.

ESPN’s brilliant soccer announcer Derek Rae informed us Bjorn Kuipers, the referee in Sunday’s Denmark-Czech Republic game, also finds time to run a hair salon in The Netherlands. Brilliant.

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