Ocasio-Cortez, Raskin call on agency to reconsider sprinter's one-month ban

Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHouse adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators MORE (N.Y.) and Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinHouse at war over Jan. 6 inquiry, mask mandate GOP Rep. Clyde defends 'normal tourist visit' comparison for Jan. 6 Five takeaways from a bracing day of Jan. 6 testimony MORE (Md.) are urging the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to reconsider a one-month ban it placed on U.S. star sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson following a positive marijuana test.

“We urge you to reconsider the policies that led to this and other suspensions for recreational marijuana use, and to reconsider Ms. Richardson’s suspension. Please strike a blow for civil liberties and civil rights by reversing this course you are on,” the two lawmakers wrote in a letter dated Friday.

Richardson tested positive for THC, a chemical found in marijuana, following her win at the women’s 100-meter during the U.S. Olympic team trials in Eugene, Ore., last month.

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According to the USADA, her results were disqualified and she agreed to accept a one-month suspension, which started on Monday.

In the letter, the two lawmakers took issue with the fact that THC, a chemical found in marijuana, was deemed “a substance of abuse” by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). 

The WADA said that the chemical, along with cocaine, ecstasy and heroine, is “frequently abused in society outside the context of sport.” But the two Democrats claimed that alcohol and cigarettes should also be listed under its prohibited substances if the WADA wanted to stay consistent with its classification.

Ocasio-Cortez and Raskin argued that the agency’s anti-marijuana policy would continue contributing to anti-drug policies that criminal justice advocates have said affect communities of color at disproportionately higher rates.

“We are also concerned that the continued prohibition of marijuana while your organizations allow recreational use of alcohol and other drugs reflects anti-drug laws and policies that have historically targeted Black and Brown communities while largely condoning drug use in white communities,” they said. “Anti-marijuana laws have a particularly ugly history of systemic racism.”

The pair pointed out that a growing number of states have already legalized marijuana in some form, and that sports leagues such as the NFL and MLB have reformed their own policies around drug testing.

Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Oregon, where Richardson used it, saying she took the substance to cope with the death of her mother.