‘I definitely feel bad for her’: Morgan athletes react to Sha’carri Richardson’s absence in 2021 Olympics

As the 2020 Olympics come to a close, Morgan State student-athletes cannot help but notice that one athlete in particular is missing from the event.

Nia Lillard and Antionette Van

In June, Sha’Carri Richardson, 21, an American sprinter placed first in the Olympic trials for the 100m dash but was swiftly disqualified after testing positive for marijuana.

Richardson’s disqualification, which sparked controversy particularly amongst athletes and women of color, happened days after her biological mother died.

“I definitely feel bad for her,” said Adrian Holley, a rising junior sprinter on Morgan’s track and field team.

Although Holley finds it unfortunate that Richardson was unable to compete in the Olympics, he believes her disqualification is justifiable.

“It’s against the rules,” he said.

While some people find Richardson’s disqualification justifiable, others question whether marijuana is even a performance-enhancing drug.

“It’s weed,” said Aaliyah Harris, a rising sophomore on Morgan’s track and field team. “It’s not like she was on steroids or any other drug enhancer.”

Marijuana consists largely of a psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Once THC reaches your bloodstream, it stimulates the nucleus accumbens, the region of the brain that responds to pleasure. Large amounts of dopamine are then unleashed which in turn gives you a euphoric, relaxed, and calm feeling.

Regardless of how Morgan student-athletes feel about Richardson’s absence from the Olympics, they are required to follow the same drug testing protocol.

“Morgan State University will run tests through NCAA if randomly selected and Morgan has their own drug tests,” said Erlease Wagner, deputy athletic director at Morgan.

Wagner added that the first time Morgan student-athletes test positive for drugs like marijuana they are sent to counseling and the second time they do so, they are suspended from games.

“After a second time, that is when they will start to lose opportunities to participate,” Wagner said. “50 percent of the season off.”