Richardson vows 'I'm here to stay' after Olympic ban

New York (AFP) –


Sha'Carri Richardson, the US sprint star banned from the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for marijuana, returns to competition Saturday vowing to show the world she's back for good.

Richardson will race against Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah and her Jamaican compatriots who completed a podium sweep at Tokyo in Saturday's Prefontaine Classic, a Diamond League meet in Eugene, Oregon.

"Coming back, it's a thank you, because at the end of the day I did make a mistake but that doesn't take away from my talent or who I am," Richardson told Olympic and meet telecaster NBC in an interview aired on Friday's "Today" show.

"I'm feeling excited. I'm feeling overjoyed to be getting back to doing what I love to do."

The 21-year-old sprint star won the 100 meters at the US Olympic trials at Eugene in June but was suspended for 30 days after her positive test for marijuana.

Richardson had earlier told NBC she took marijuana before the trials after learning about the death of her biological mother.

That made watching the Olympics on television a bittersweet feeling.

"Like a moment of bitterness, but at the same time it was sweet because it just gives me more," Richardson said.

"It gives me more time. It gives me more to show the world that I'm here to stay, and just guarantees I'm going to be here just a little bit longer in the game. But definitely watching it made me want to push forward and just grow from that."

Richardson added: "I know what I did. I know I'm responsible. And I'm here to take what it is that I have to take from the choices that I decided to make.

"You can't run from reality. It's still going to be there no matter how long you choose to ignore it, no matter how long you choose to think it's going to go away."

- 'We live life like you' -

While there has been talk of changing banned substance rules in the wake of her situation, Richardson said any such move won't have an impact on her.

"No, not at all," she said. "If those rules do change, honestly, I'm just blessed and proud of fact that I could do that for other athletes."

Richardson has joined a host of athletes who have spoken up about the mental stress of performing at elite levels, including US Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka.

"I'm doing a whole lot better and I'm actually proud to just continue on this journey," Richardson said.

"We want to perform for you guys and put on the best performance for you guys, but at the same time we're here just like you are.

"When we step off the track, when we step off the football field, when we step off the court, we live life just like you do -- just for a certain amount of time we look like superheroes."