Last week, Sha’Carri Richardson, the Nike endorsed track and field star, was suspended for a month and disqualified from the Tokyo Olympics where she was to compete in the 100-meter event, after testing positive for marijuana.
After her suspension, Sha’Carri Richardson publicly apologized. She explained that she used marijuana after learning her mother had passed away. According to sources, she used marijuana in Oregon, where the drug is legal. As of today, Richardson was also not selected for the U.S. relay team by USA Track & Field .
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other prominent government officials have spoken out arguing that “the ban on marijuana is a significant and unnecessary burden on athletes’ civil liberties.”
In addition to being supported by people like AOC, prominent celebrities, fellow athletes, and the Nike organization, some lawmakers are arguing that this is a prime opportunity to change long standing policies on marijuana use.
This comes as sports leagues have loosened their regulations surrounding marijuana usage. “In recent years, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, and the National Football League have all removed penalties for marijuana use” demonstrating a changing public sentiment.
Dwyane Wade, the former Miami Heat basketball player, who openly vocalized his disagreement on Sha’Carri Richardson’s ban tweeted: “…majority of y’all rule makers smoke and probably are investors in THC companies. Let’s stop playing these games.”
In addition to the many individuals who came out supporting Sha’Carri Richardson, Nike, who sponsors Richardson, was quick to come out on her side.
Nike has a long track record of balancing athlete drug scandals and usage. In 2012, Nike parted ways with Lance Armstrong, the seven-time winner of the Tour de France, after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued a report detailing a prolonged doping scandal.
Olympic track star Marion Jones was also previously dropped by Nike because of her use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Nike and several other companies ended major endorsement deals with tennis star Maria Sharapova after she admitted failing a drug test prior to the Australian Open in 2016.
US anti-doping officials and President Biden are saying “rules are rules.” However, with strong support from brands like Nike and influential individuals, it is only a matter of time when government and drug enforcement agencies will need to reevaluate some of their outdated legacy rules and regulations.