We should have empathy for track star

Published 7:11 pm Friday, July 2, 2021

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I wanted to write a full-fledged “Hail State” column this weekend to celebrate my alma mater’s first national championship.

Instead, the news of former LSU track star Sha’Carri Richardson missing the Olympics after testing positive for using Marijuana took precedence. 

Having run cross-country and track in high school, I know how hard runners work ahead of their races. She ran the 100m dash in 10.86 seconds to qualify for the Olympics and showed so much promise.

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“I want to take responsibility for my actions,” Richardson told NBC on Friday. “I know what I did. I know what I’m supposed to do and am allowed not to do, and I still made that decision. I’m not making an excuse. I’m not looking for any empathy in my case.”

According to an article on CBS, Richardson used Marijuana in Oregon, where it is legal, after the death of her biological mother.

“That sent me in a state of mind, in a state of emotional panic, if anything,” she said. “During all that, I still, even though I’m here, I still have to go out and put on a performance for my dream.”

I have empathy for Richardson. I know what it is like to find out a relative has died and have to return to work on a big stage.

Being in a press box while cowbells toll and Texas A&M embarrass Mississippi State on a football field is not the best place to cope with the loss of a close cousin of my dad.

The Olympic Trials are not on the same level as writing a few feature stories for the Starkville Daily News. I do know what the brain does, and I know how longingly I searched for relief that day.

Like Richardson, I too turned to a substance, all be it was a legal one in the form of alcohol, to cope that day after my work was done. It was not my proudest moment.

USA Track and Field should allow her to at least compete in the 4x100m relay. How great would it be to see an LSU Tiger win a gold medal and also get the blessing of being able to compete on the international stage?

Olympic athletes are human too, and this situation deserves a human response of understanding. The USATF should allow her to compete.