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Sha’Carri Richardson calls out an Olympic double standard

February 16, 2022, 2:31 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Prince Andrew settles his sexual abuse lawsuit, new details about CNN’s firings emerge, and the Olympics reveal a double standard. Have a great Wednesday.

-A different standard. News that Russian athlete Kamila Valieva’s suspension would be lifted despite testing positive for a banned drug sent shockwaves through the world of figure skating—with viewers and athletes drawing parallels to the drug test of another Olympian: Sha’Carri Richardson, the U.S. sprinter who was barred from last summer’s Tokyo Games for marijuana use. 

“Can we get a solid answer on the difference of her situation and mines?” Richardson wrote in a Monday tweet. “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 received a one-month suspension last summer after testing positive for marijuana, preventing her from traveling to Tokyo and competing with Team USA. In a July interview with NBC’s Today Show, she said she had smoked the non-performance enhancing drug to help cope with her mother’s death. 

Valieva, meanwhile, was cleared to compete after failing a pre-Olympics doping test that found the performance-enhancing drug trimetazidine in her system. The skater won a gold in a team event last week and is a favorite to place first after Thursday’s free skate event.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has its reasons for lifting Valieva’s interim ban; the 15-year-old athlete is considered a “protected person” because she’s under 16 and, as such, could face “irreparable harm” if banned from competing. Richardson’s suspension, however, was handled by U.S. Olympic authorities, rather than CAS.

But bureaucratic procedures can’t explain everything, and CAS has a track record worth noting here; the governing body barred the South African runner Caster Semenya from competing in certain women’s events in 2020 due to her naturally high testosterone levels—a ruling that many decried as racist.

Richardson certainly sees a double standard that extends beyond herself. “Not one BLACK athlete has been about to compete with a case going on, I don’t care what they say!!!” she tweeted.

Responsibility for Valieva’s positive test should arguably lie with the adults surrounding her. So the question isn’t why aren’t Olympic authorities being harder on Valieva—but why didn’t they extend that same care to Richardson?

Emma Hinchliffe

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- A royal's settlement. Prince Andrew settled his sexual abuse lawsuit with Virginia Giuffre, who says Andrew raped her when she was a victim of Jeffrey Epstein (he has denied the allegation). Representatives for the prince didn't comment on the settlement, which avoids a very public trial. The Telegraph reports that the settlement totals £12 million, with some funding coming from the Queen. 

- Inside CNN. The story at CNN is more complicated than an office romance and an anchor aiding his brother. Per the New York Times, the network received a letter from a prominent sexual harassment lawyer stating that Chris Cuomo had sexually assaulted an ABC News employee during his tenure there. Cuomo allegedly offered favorable CNN coverage to the accuser's employer during the height of the #MeToo movement, which she viewed as an attempt to smooth things over and keep her quiet. (Cuomo denies the allegation.) Allison Gollust, the executive who had a relationship with ousted CEO Jeff Zucker, is also leaving the network. New York Times

- Disturbing DNA practices. San Francisco police have been using DNA collected from sexual assault victims to identify them as suspects in other crimes, city officials say. The district attorney's office learned about the practice of police connecting rape kit DNA to other crimes last week, and is calling for it to end. NPR

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- Period piece. The Gilded Age on HBO depicts a slice of history rarely seen in pop culture: the elite Black population in late 19th century New York City. Denée Benton plays Peggy Scott, an aspiring writer who comes from a wealthy Black family in Brooklyn. New York Times


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"The point of being alive is to experience life and play with it. There’s still so much fun to be had."

-Zoë Kravitz, in an Elle cover story

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