In letter, USADA says it can’t change marijuana rules alone

Sha'Carri Richardson
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U.S. Anti-Doping Agency leaders are pushing to further mitigate “harsh consequences” for marijuana if it’s not intentionally used to enhance performance, though they cannot unilaterally change the rules, they wrote in a letter to members of Congress critical of the agency in the wake of sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson’s ban from the Olympics.

The letter, sent Friday, addressed criticisms leveled by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, and Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, in their own letter, sent last week, after Richardson’s suspension was announced.

The 21-year-old sprinter will not compete at the Tokyo Games after testing positive for a chemical found in marijuana after her U.S. Olympic Trials 100m victory.

Officially, she received a 30-day ban, but the positive test nullified her first-place finish, which cost her a spot in the individual race. And earlier this week, USA Track and Field left her completely off the Olympic roster, meaning she can’t run in the 4x100m relay, which takes place after the 30-day ban is over.

Friday’s letter, co-signed by USADA CEO Travis Tygart, referenced a rule in Ultimate Fighting Championship that does not penalize marijuana use if it is not meant to enhance performance. But while USADA oversees UFC’s anti-doping program, that league is not signed onto the international anti-doping code, the way USADA, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and all organizations that oversee Olympic athletes are.

“Most governments in the world have been very reluctant to take marijuana off the prohibited list for public health reasons,” the USADA letter read. “It is worth noting that when marijuana was included in the first prohibited list in 2004, one of the strongest advocates for inclusion of marijuana on the prohibited list was the U.S. government.”

It said that because Richardson voluntarily accepted her 30-day sanction, any attempt to reverse it, as Ocasio-Cortez and Raskin suggested should happen, “would have been quickly appealed” by the IOC or World Anti-Doping Agency and might have resulted in an even longer suspension.

In last Friday’s letter to Tygart and WADA president Witold Banka, Ocasio-Cortez and Raskin wrote “the ban on marijuana is a significant and unnecessary burden on athletes’ civil liberties.” It said the rule was even more antiquated because of more permissive attitudes about the drug, which “is currently legal in 19 states” and “legal in some form in at least 35 countries around the world.”

But USADA countered back that “most governments in the world have been very reluctant to take marijuana off the prohibited list for public health reasons.”

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Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

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Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

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Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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