The U.S. media and cannabis experts have spoken: The suspension of American sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson from the Olympics is unfair, racist and needs to be overturned immediately. Consider these headlines and stories:
The New York Times: “Why We Hold Olympic Athletes to Such Ridiculous and Cruel Standards”
So, let's unpack this: The narrative appears to be that pot is something used overwhelmingly by Blacks compared to whites. Therefore, the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) long-standing rule that if an athlete tests positive for foreign substances, including marijuana, he or she will be suspended, is racist.
But is this really a black-and-white issue? Because a look at the numbers from the Uniform Crime Reporting Program and the U.S. Census Bureau suggests the percentage of each race that uses marijuana is approximately the same (16 percent and 14 percent, respectively). So, again, how is this policy anti-Black and racist given the data?
But at least it's good to know that Seth Rogen, whose entire schtick at this point is to smoke weed while being interviewed (Note: he's not 23 anymore), has Sha'Carri Richardson's back here, because that story isn't completely predictable or anything.
The support for Richardson is overwhelming on social media as well, with #LetHerRun being a top trending topic on Twitter.
If the IOC wants to change the rules for future Olympiads, then let the body decide whether pot should be legal for athletes in the same way alcohol is. Such a rule change likely would have the support of a considerable majority of the American people. According to Gallup,
support for legalizing marijuana has doubled since 2000, when support stood at just 34 percent. That number is 68 percent now.
All of that said, President BidenJoe BidenJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Fill the Eastern District of Virginia Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted MORE was right when he said "the rules are the rules" as it pertains to Richardson's suspension.
Like all athletes heading to the world's biggest stage as Olympians, she knew she would be tested. Why throw that all away, knowing that smoking marijuana would result in a suspension?
As for those – including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez goes indoor skydiving for her birthday Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention More than 200 women, transgender inmates to be transferred from Rikers Island MORE (D-N.Y.) – who are screaming "Change this racist rule now and reinstate Sha’Carri," here's a pro-tip: You can’t change the rule for the entire world one month before the Olympics for just one athlete. Because how would the world react if Richardson were reinstated? Would other countries see that as fair? What kind of precedent would that set?
We worked with @RepRaskin and the Subcommittee on Civil Rights & Civil Liberties to formally ask @USAntiDoping to end Sha'Carri Richardson's suspension.— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@RepAOC) July 3, 2021
Their decision lacks any scientific basis. It's rooted solely in the systemic racism that's long driven anti-marijuana laws. pic.twitter.com/F28c5ScI1D
Rhetorical questions all.
Of course, the question around supporting Richardson's suspension breaks down along party lines, as does seemingly everything these days. According to YouGov, 62 percent of Republicans strongly or somewhat support the ban, while just 37 percent of Democrats agree.
Sha'Carri Richardson broke the rule as it exists today. Her suspension should follow in line with that rule. If the IOC wants to change that rule or lessen the suspension in the future, fine, but it can't happen on the fly.
But that won’t matter. The media are again mostly in lockstep in advocating the opposite, which is about as predictable as the sun rising in the east, birds flying south for the winter and AOC denouncing a decades-old rule — and almost everything else to which she objects — as racist.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.