Queer sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson became the fastest woman in the world this year after winning the women’s 100m at the World Athletics Championships.
Her record-breaking victory comes three years after a one-month anti-doping suspension for marijuana use. Although not seen as a performance-enhancing substance, the drug is still banned.
Texan Richardson broke the tape in 10.65 seconds, in Budapest, on Monday (21 August), Reuters reported. Her time was a record for the championships and the joint-fifth fastest ever.
In 2021, the sprinter was suspended from the sport after testing positive for marijuana, meaning she was ineligible to compete at the Tokyo Olympics. She then failed to qualify for last year’s world championships, held in the US.
But she stormed back this week to win the gold medal, beating Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson (who finished in 10.72 seconds), to claim her first world title.
In a post-race press conference, Richardson said: “In previous interviews, I mentioned that I’m not back, I’m better. I’m going to stay humble, I’m not back, I’m better and I’m going to continue to be better.”
She added: “Never give up, never allow the media or outsiders to define who you are. Always fight. Never leave sight of yourself. You’ll have good days and bad days but you always have tomorrow.”
Sha’Carri Richardson of her way to victory in the 100m final. (Andy Astfalck/BSR Agency/Getty Images)
Richardson has previously admitted that she had used marijuana in the state of Oregon, where the drug is legal, to help her cope after the death of her biological mother.
She told The Today Show at the time: “It [her mothers’ death] sent me into a state of emotional panic. I didn’t know how to control or deal with my emotions during that time.”
Richardson added that those criticising her for using marijuana “don’t necessarily understand”.
The athlete then called out the double standards with regards to her suspension, after Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was allowed to continue competing at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics despite testing positive for the banned drug trimetazidine, which is used for chest pain but also could function as a stimulant.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport said banning Valieva would cause her “irreparable harm”.
After the decision, Richardson tweeted: “Can we get a solid answer on the difference of her situation and mine? My mother died and I can’t run and was also favoured to place top three. The only difference I see is I’m a Black young lady.”
The record for the fastest time for the women’s 100m remains 10.49 seconds, set by Florence Griffith Joyner in 1988.
The athlete has previously spoken openly about the support of a girlfriend, saying a partner helped the athlete decide to dye her hair bright orange for the qualifying rounds of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
“My girlfriend actually picked my colour,” she said at the time.
“She said it, like, spoke to her, the fact that it was just so loud and vibrant, and that’s who I am.”
She has previously said that she is bisexual on social media.