White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday praised sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson as "an inspiring young woman," but sidestepped a question about whether President Joe Biden agreed with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's decision to suspend Richardson from the U.S. Olympic team for testing positive for THC, the chemical in marijuana.
"This was an independent decision made by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and not, not, a decision that would be made by the U.S. government, as is appropriate," Psaki said. "We will certainly leave them the space and room to make their decisions about anti-doping policies that need to be implemented.
"I will also note that Sha'Carri Richardson is an inspiring young woman who ... has gone through a lot personally" and "happens to be one of the fastest women in the world."
"That's an important part of the story as well." Psaki said.
Richardson, 21, appeared bound for the Tokyo Games after winning the women’s 100-meter race at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon, last month, finishing in 10.86 seconds. It was later revealed that her biological mother had died a week earlier.
On Friday, the anti-doping agency disclosed that she'd tested positive for THC after the race, and as a result, "Richardson’s competitive results obtained on June 19, 2021, including her Olympic qualifying results at the Team Trials, have been disqualified, and she forfeits any medals, points, and prizes."
While marijuana use is legal in Oregon, the Olympics world anti-doping code classified it as "a substance of abuse" earlier this year, and its use is considered a rule violation.
Richardson told NBC's "TODAY" show on Friday morning that "I would like to say to my fans and my family and my sponsorship, to the haters, too, I apologize." She also vowed that "this will never happen again."
"This will be the last time the Olympics don’t see Sha’Carri Richardson, and this will be the last time the U.S. doesn’t come home with a gold medal in the 100," she said.