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Usain Bolt tells American sprinter Richardson to refocus and return after cannabis ban

ATHLETICS By Reuters | July 14th 2021
This file photo taken on August 16, 2008 shows Jamaica's Usain Bolt kissing his shoe after winning the men's 100m final at the National stadium as part of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Game. [AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI]

Eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt said he hopes American sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson can "refocus" and get back on the track after she completes a one-month ban following a positive test for cannabis.

“Hopefully she can learn from this and just push on,” Bolt told Reuters when asked about the American’s failed test for the banned substance, which cost her a spot on the U.S. team for the Olympics in Tokyo.

“I know she has gone through a lot, you understand, but I hope she can refocus and just push on and do her best because she looks like a really talented athlete,” he added.

Bolt, however, said athletes needed to compete within the rules.

"I’ve always explained to people that the rules are the rules. I’ve been saying this throughout my years, when it comes to drugs, I have nothing to say, but the rules are the rules. If they say you should do this and this is the rule, that is the rule," said the Jamaican, who also won 11 world championship gold medals.

Sha'Carri Richardson waves after winning the women's 100-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Saturday, June 19, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. [AP Photo/Ashley Landis]

Cannabis is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) but if athletes can prove that ingestion is unrelated to performance, then a suspension of three months rather than the usual two or four years is imposed.

If an athlete is willing to undertake an approved treatment programme in collaboration with their national anti-doping body, then the ban can be reduced to one month.

Richardson was aiming to become the first American woman to win the Olympic 100m title since Gail Devers in 1996 after posting 10.72 seconds in April - one of her five runs under 11 seconds this season. 

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