White House press secretary says anti-doping rules should be reviewed after Sha'Carri Richardson ban

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Sha'Carri Richardson
The White House press secretary said it might be time to amend the marijuana rules in sports that are keeping Sha'Carri Richardson sidelined. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN on Wednesday that it might be time to review anti-doping rules in sports after Sha'Carri Richardson was left off the relay team late Tuesday. 

Richardson, a medal favorite for the 100-meter dash at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this month, tested positive for marijuana use and was disqualified from her signature race. Her one-month ban expires ahead of the games, but USA Track & Field (USATF) declined to select her to its 4x100 relay team

It officially ended her chance of competing at the Olympics. 

"It does stink," Psaki told CNN's John Berman of "New Day" on Wednesday. "I don't think there's a better definition of it."

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Psaki: Take another look at the rules

Richardson, 21, confirmed that she ingested marijuana days before the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, where it is legal. She told the Today Show last week that she took the substance after learning of her mother's death. 

"We know the rules are where they are. Maybe we should take another look at them," Psaki said on CNN. "We certainly have to respect the role of the U.S. Anti Doping Agency (USADA) and the U.S. Olympic Committee and the decisions they make. But it is sad, and we do wish her luck and look forward to seeing her running as the fastest woman in the world for years to come."

USADA CEO Travis Tygart noted in a statement that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is the global arbiter on the marijuana doping rules and there might be little the U.S. can do.

"While the U.S. government has a seat at the table to provide feedback, and will continue to speak up for athletes, we are ultimately bound to the WADA rules," he said in a statement, via Reuters.

Psaki, who was asked about it at a press briefing last week, called Richardson inspiring and again noted she was going through a tragedy. She said president Joe Biden has also followed the story closely. 

Biden was asked about the suspension and disqualification last week. 

"The rules are the rules and everybody knows what the rules were going in," Biden told Bo Erickson of CBS. "Whether they should remain that way is a different issue. But the rules are rules, I was really proud of the way she responded."

USATF also argued for a reevaluation of the rules on Tuesday. 

USATF declines to take Richardson to Olympics

USATF was not bound by the marijuana when it came to the relay team because there is no qualification event. It chooses the athletes for the team, and Richardson's suspension would be up by the time the event came around. It chose not to, it said, because it would be "detrimental to the integrity of the [trials]." 

"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," it said in a statement.  

It sent "heartfelt understanding" to Richardson and said it's supporting her through this time. 

Patrick Mahomes, Megan Rapinoe and more have taken to social media to support her since the news of the positive test.

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