Analysis: The Rules Around The Olympics Are Simply Confounding

Analysis: The Rules Around The Olympics Are Simply Confounding

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(CNN)It’s a strange twist at a strange time in sports: The fastest American woman has been banned from her signature event at the Tokyo Olympics for taking a performance decreasing drug.

Marijuana is legal in some form in most US states and completely legal in Oregon, where the US track and field trials were held and where runner Sha’Carri Richardson said she had used the drug to cope with the shock of learning about her biological mother’s death from a reporter.

Some people might argue that cannabis is a performance enhancer — because it calms nervous athletes down — but the NCAA, which also bans the use of cannabis by athletes, has a downloadable PowerPoint presentation on its website about how it can make athletes worse.

    Richardson nevertheless dusted the competition in the 100-meter trials. Watch it here. She’s got wheels.

      A group of lawmakers has complained, but the case appears to be closed. Richardson accepted her fate with contrition during an appearance last week on the “Today” show.

        “Don’t judge me, because I am human. I’m you,” she said. “I just happen to run a little faster.”

        Her precise monthlong suspension might just be short enough that she could still compete at the Olympics in the 4×100 meter relay. The Games run from July 23 to August 8.

          Rules are rules. Everyone from the head of the US Anti-Doping Agency, Travis Tygart, to President Joe Biden is sad about this, but they’re also intent on following the rules.

          “Her acceptance of responsibility and apology will be an important example to us all that we can successfully overcome our regrettable decisions, despite the costly consequences of this one to her,” Tygart said in a news release Friday.

          “The rules are the rules,” Biden said Saturday at an event in Michigan. “Whether they should remain the rules is a different issue, but the rules are the rules.”

          Rules also change. One aggravating fact is that Olympic bans are often changed and penalties blunted. Russia was banned completely from international sport for four years. The ban was later reduced to two years. And Russian athletes — more than 300 of them — will compete at the Tokyo Olympics; they just won’t be identified as Russian. Read more.

          Biden can’t change sports doping rules, but he could help change US law. The debate over marijuana is very much on point in the US, where it is more and more accepted after years and years when laws against its use were applied to a disproportionate number of Black Americans.

          Even as it has become legal in more states, the federal government still technically considers it a “schedule 1” substance alongside heroin, which in the eyes of the federal government has no medical use. Read more here about the effort to change US law.

          Legalize it. CNN’s Harry Enten wrote in March about polls that more than two-thirds of Americans now believe cannabis should be legalized for recreational use and suggested the Biden White House was about 10 years behind the curve.

          Big companies like Amazon have changed their workplace expectations about marijuana and will not test job applicants. They are lobbying the federal government to legalize it.

          Pro sports and pot. Leagues like the NFL and NBA have either relaxed their marijuana testing policies or begun to ignore them, although NBA players traveling to Tokyo as part of Team USA will be tested.

          Cannabis is banned, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency, because it “violates the spirit of sport.”

          The group did relax its rules on marijuana in 2013, requiring more THC to be detected in the blood to fail a test. It also removed CBD, which lacks the psychoactive compound THC, and which you see in more and more US products, from its banned list.

          The story of why mar

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