AOC Blasts Olympics Banned Substance Policy as 'Colonial and Racist,' Demands Suspension for Failed Drug Test Be Lifted


Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez criticized the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for suspending an Olympic athlete for testing positive for a chemical found in marijuana, calling the policy “colonial and racist.”

“The criminalization and banning of cannabis is an instrument of racist and colonial policy,” the New York Democrat tweeted.

“The IOC should reconsider its suspension of Ms. Richardson and any athletes penalized for cannabis use.”

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The USADA announced Friday that sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson had accepted a one-month suspension for testing positive for cannabis during the U.S. Olympic trials.

Richardson won the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.86 seconds, making her a gold medal contender, according to ESPN.

“The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking on many levels,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement.

“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.”

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Rep. Jamie Raskin, Ocasio-Cortez and the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties formally asked the USADA to end Richardson’s suspension so she can run in the Olympics.

“Their decision lacks any scientific basis. It’s rooted solely in the systemic racism that’s long driven anti-marijuana laws,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

“Even the medical director of [the World Anti-Doping Agency], whose U.S. arm issued the suspension, has said there is no evidence that marijuana is performance enhancing.”

She added, “Not to mention, marijuana is legal in Oregon where Ms. Richardson was when she used it.”

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Richardson had ingested marijuana while in Oregon for the Olympic trials after learning that her mother had died, she told NBC’s “Today” show during a Friday interview.

“I want to take responsibility for my actions,” Richardson said. “I know what I did. I know what I’m supposed to do. I know what I’m allowed not to do, and I still made that decision.”

Recreational marijuana use is legal in Oregon as well as 16 other states and D.C. but is prohibited in competition per the WADA’s rules, according to Fox News.

Richardson’s suspension will be lifted prior to the 4×100-meter relay at the Olympics on Aug. 6 and the athlete could run if she is selected by the USATF, according to ESPN.

“This is just one Games. I’m 21, I’m very young. … I have plenty of Games left in me to compete in and I have plenty of talent that backs me up, because everything I do comes from me naturally. No steroid, no anything,” she said.

“This incident was about marijuana, so after my sanction is up I’ll be back and able to compete, and every single time I step on the track I’ll be ready for whatever anti-doping agency to come and get what it is that they need.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith