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The congresswoman’s comments followed the announcement that U.S. champion Sha’Carri Richardson will not be running in the 100-meter race after she tested positive for THC, a chemical found in marijuana, at the Olympic trials – voiding her first-place results.
Richardson, a Black woman from Texas, was given a one-month suspension, which precludes her ability to race the 100 in Tokyo but means she could still be in the running for the women’s relay race, as the trial will not be held until after July 27.
The 21-year old runner’s suspension was reduced to one month from three because she agreed to participate in a counseling program.
“The criminalization and banning of cannabis is an instrument of racist and colonial policy,” Ocasio-Cortez said Friday. “The IOC [International Olympic Committee] should reconsider its suspension of Ms. Richardson and any athletes penalized for cannabis use.”
Richardson is not the first athlete to face repercussions for marijuana use.
Twenty-three-year-old gold medalist Michael Phelps received a three-month suspension from competition and lost his Kellogg sponsorship after a photo emerged that showed him smoking a marijuana pipe in 2009.
Phelps, a White man from Maryland, never actually tested positive for marijuana but acknowledged the photo’s authenticity.
The photo was reportedly taken six months after the 2008 Olympics and his suspension ended in time for him to compete in the 2009 World Championships.
In a tweet, Richardson said, “I am human,” and explained in a Friday interview on the “Today” show that she was “triggered” by the death of her mother.
“I was definitely triggered and blinded by emotions, blinded by badness, and hurting, and hiding hurt,” she said. “I know I can’t hide myself, so in some type of way, I was trying to hide my pain.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ questions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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