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'harsh consequences'

USADA responds to letter from AOC regarding Sha'Carri Richardson suspension, says it can't unilaterally change the rules

The United States Anti-Doping Agency has addressed sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson's controversial suspension for a positive marijuana test in a new letter to lawmakers, saying it wants to mitigate such "harsh consequences" but can't change the rules unilaterally. 

Leaders from the USADA in a letter Friday to Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) responded to their objections over Richardson's one-month suspension after the sprinter tested positive for marijuana, Axios reported. The USADA leaders called it "heartbreaking" that she'll now miss the Olympics and said that the World Anti-Doping Agency's "rules concerning marijuana must change." 

However, the letter notes that the USADA "does not make or have a direct vote on the anti-doping rules" and is "required to enforce them," while adding that "most governments in the world have been very reluctant to take marijuana off the prohibited list for public health reasons." But the USADA says the "rules addressing cannabis and cannabinoids should be more flexible and fair," and that it would like to "go still further in mitigating the harsh consequences of a positive marijuana case in a situation like Ms. Richardson's." 

Richardson was suspended for 30 days over the positive marijuana test, keeping her from the 100 meter race at the Olympics. It was later confirmed she would miss the Olympics entirely after she wasn't selected for the United States' Olympic 4x100 relay team. Richardson told Today she takes "responsibility for my actions," while explaining that she used marijuana legally to help cope with the loss of her mother. After Richardson accepted the 30-day suspension, the USADA said "there is no longer any legal process to challenge it or to reverse it."

Ocasio-Cortez and Raskin had previously urged the USADA to reconsider Richardson's suspension and "strike a blow for civil liberties and civil rights by reversing this course you are on."