Olympics-IOC's DeFrantz hails sprinter Richardson for coming clean on cannabis use

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FILE PHOTO: Diamond League - Gateshead
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(Reuters) - International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president Anita DeFrantz says she admires Sha'Carri Richardson for coming clean on her cannabis use which resulted in the American sprinter accepting a one-month ban and missing the Tokyo Games.

Richardson was aiming to become the first American woman to win the Olympic 100m title in 25 years but said earlier this month she used the banned substance to cope with the death of her mother.

"I have great admiration for the U.S. athlete. She is extraordinary," DeFrantz told Politico https://www.politico.com/live-events/2021/07/13/the-road-to-tokyo-2020-001234.

"With her integrity she said 'yes, I did it. Here's what happened, I was in a terrible position, there was no one there for me, I just learned from a stranger that my biological mother had passed away and so I went to the depths of despair and I did something I should not have.'

"She's been very clear about that. In general, athletes know that cannabis is on the list of banned substances for the Olympic Games, basically for everything, I believe.

"There might be a temporary use exemption available... but not that I know of, because it's just one of those things that's considered counter-productive. In some sports you want to make sure that you're sharp and it might not allow you to be sharp."

DeFrantz, who said she is a fourth-generation civil rights activist, also said athletes should draw the line when it comes to using the podium as a platform to make a statement.

"I'm a firm believer that we have to be able to speak up on things that we think need to be fixed, changed, improved in some way," she added.

"However, it's also important to address those thoughts to the proper audience where change and the idea of change can be received.

"We now have 206 National Olympic Committees, 206 different places where people might have problems where they live... What will podiums become - speakers' corners or part of a venue where excellence is being celebrated?"

(Reporting by Rohith Nair and Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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