Drug ban sprinter alleges racial bias in Valieva case

American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson has asked why Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was cleared to take part in the Olympics, saying that the only difference between the pair is their skin color

Sha’Carri Richardson has suggested that racial bias may be responsible for the decision to allow teenage Russian sensation Kamila Valieva to continue to compete at the Bejing Olympics after testing positive for the heart drug trimetazidine, months after Richardson was barred from competing at the Tokyo Olympics following a positive test for cannabis. 

Valieva, 15, had her provisional suspension formally lifted on Monday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) who ruled that, as a minor, she was a 'protected person' and subject to different criteria compared to other athletes. It does remain possible, however, that Valieva could have the gold medal she won with the Russian Olympic Committee in the team event last week rescinded pending the results of a further investigation. 

Richardson, who is considered to be among the finest female athletes of her generation, says that there are numerous similarities – as well as a key difference – between her case and that of Valieva.

The 21-year-old American was tipped to win Team USA's first 100 meters gold medalist since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta but was forced to miss the event when she was handed a one-month ban by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after submitting a positive test of marijuana last July

That came shortly after she had placed first in the 100 meters Olympic trials for the United States' team.

Richardson suggested that the death of her mother shortly before the Olympics had left her in a “state of emotional panic” which was to blame for her positive test, while also stating that the only difference she can see between herself and Valieva is that she is a “black young lady”.

“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 favored to place top three,  she wrote on Twitter Monday.

“The only difference I see is I’m a black young lady.” 

She later added that “it's all in the skin” in a subsequent tweet and said that the psychoactive substance in marijuana, THC, is not a performance-enhancing drug.

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“THC definitely is not a performance enhancer,” she wrote. “[Valieva] failed in December and the world just now knows.

"However, my result[s] were posted within a week and my name and talent were slaughtered to the people,” added Richardson in another tweet in which she highlighted what she sees as different standards being applied.

“Not one BLACK athlete has been about to compete with a case going on. I don’t care what they say."

The CAS ruled that preventing prodigy Valieva from participating in the Olympics would have caused her “irreparable harm” and there there were several “exceptional circumstances” which influenced their decision.

It was also announced that medals will not be awarded should Valieva finish in the top three of the singles event, with IOC representatives stating that medals would only be handed out pending the results of their investigation. 

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