Sha’Carri Richardson became one of the fastest women in the world at the age of 19. The record-breaking runner was easily chosen as a gold medal favorite for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo; even before she even dominated the qualifying 100m race at the US Track and Field Olympic Trials. One time, she just happened to smoke weed.
On July 2, The United States Doping Agency (USADA) announced Richardson tested positive for THC and had accepted her suspension. Despite being an unmatched track sensation, she was banned for 30 days and disqualified from the women’s 100m and 400m Olympic events.
With courage and grace Richardson faced the hypocritical crowds that once shouted her name:
“I just say, don’t judge me and I am human — I’m you, I just happen to run a little faster,” she told NBC the same day her results went live. Angrily her supporters pointed out Richardson’s 30-day suspension would end before her Olympic event even began and she theoretically could’ve still competed in time.
When Richardson revealed she smoked weed following what she called, “a state of emotional panic” after her mother’s death, supporters furiously petitioned for the Olympic committee to reconsider the suspension to no avail. For weeks, fans and weed-smokers alike eagerly waited to see what Sha’Carri Richardon’s next speedy move would be. Fast-forward to July 21st, and the radio silence has come to an end.
First, Richardson posted an Instagram story teasing, “Don’t have to miss me for too much longer.” Then, early this morning, she resurfaced as the new face of the Beats by Dre campaign, heavily backed by Kanye West’s newest musical project Donda.
The electric ad accompanying Dr.Dre’s defiant campaign features Sha’carri under bright stadium lights showcasing her signature speed in Nike cleats. Her outfit comes complete with a pair of Beats by Dre earbuds blasting West’s previously unreleased track, “No Child Left Behind.” In a fashion true to Richarson’s life and especially her career, the advert comes to a close with the phrase, “Live your Truth.”
Beats by Dre released the ad with a tweet stating, “[Sha’carri Richardson] doesn’t need you to let her do anything.” The careful consideration of the campaign speaks to the higher truth surrounding Richardson’s supposedly scandalous suspension.
At the end of the day, Richardson doesn’t need permission to run fast – nor does she need extrinsic factors like a medal or title for proof. All that she truly requires is found within herself and the way she adamantly chooses to live authentically.
Even Queen Rihanna herself can get behind a philosophy like that – and she does, leaving Olympic level shade under a mirror pic Richardson posted on Instagram.“Yassss for the non-cardboard bed,” Rihanna types deviously, pointing out the massive and blanketed bed behind Richardson; the likes of which appears as a cloud compared to what Olympic athletes are currently sleeping on in Tokyo.