IOC dismisses criticism from US sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson in Valieva case

Beijing, China – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday dismissed allegations from American sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson of racial bias in connection with the treatment of Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva.

US sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson (r.) has called out the double standards in the Olympics and raised allegations of racial bias.
US sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson (r.) has called out the double standards in the Olympics and raised allegations of racial bias.  © Collage: IMAGO / Penta Press & IMAGO / Action Plus

Richardson had questioned on Twitter why she she wasn't allowed to compete at the Tokyo Games in the wake of a positive test for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) while Valieva has been allowed to skate in Beijing despite a positive test for the banned heart medication trimetazidine.

"Can we get a solid answer on the difference of her situation and mines? My mother died and I can’t run and was also favored to place top 3. The only difference I see is I’m a black young lady," Richardson tweeted earlier this week.

But IOC spokesperson Mark Adams insisted the two cases cannot be compared.

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"In terms of Ms Richardson's case, she tested positive on June 19 quite a way ahead of the Games. Her results came in early order for [United States Anti-Doping Agency] USADA to deal with the case on time before the Games," Adams said.

"Ms. Richardson accepted a one-month period of ineligibility which began on June 28 so I'd suggest there isn't a great deal of similarity between the two cases."

Richardson admitted to have been smoking cannabis as she mourned the death of her mother and was banned for one month. She tested positive at the US Olympic trials and was disqualified, meaning she could not run in Tokyo.

Valieva's positive result from a sample taken at the Russian championships on December 25 only arrived on February 7, the day after she had helped Russia win the Olympic team event.

Test results still under investigation

Valieva came out on top in the short program in Beijing on Tuesday.
Valieva came out on top in the short program in Beijing on Tuesday.  © IMAGO / Penta Press

The IOC, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and skating body ISU appealed the lifting of a provisional suspension imposed by Russia's anti-doping body RUSADA but that was turned down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which also cited Valieva's young age of 15.

But the IOC also said that there would be no flower or medal ceremony after the competition should Valieva – who topped the short program Tuesday – make the podium because the positive test is yet to be fully dealt with.

Adams reiterated Wednesday that the results would be provisional and marked with an asterisk, and warned of drawing any early conclusions.

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"As far as I'm aware, the B sample has not even been opened yet," he said.

Adams said the "first priority" was Valieva's welfare.

"She is at the center of a lot of speculation and it must be very tough for her," he said.

"We all need to be very, very responsible of the way we discuss this issue and which I remind you has not been closed yet."

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / Penta Press & IMAGO / Action Plus

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