From the Left



Pot, Politics, Protests — Yes, It Must Be Time Again for the Olympics

Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Hey, sports fans, it’s time for the Olympics again. So let’s talk about pot, protests and politics.

Purists still decry the intrusion of politics into their sacred Games, especially if the politics disagree with their own. But such intrusions have been happening so often, that the International Olympic Committee might as well consider awarding medals for it.

If so, American star sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson became a contender when she received a one-month suspension after testing positive for marijuana.

That came as a shock to many, especially to those of us who didn’t know that even now, after 18 states have legalized recreational weed — including Oregon, where she was when she used it — that you can still get bounced from the Olympics for it, even though officials agree it is not a “performance-enhancing drug,” except perhaps as a stress reliever.

Richardson’s case sounded even more sympathetic after she explained that while she was in Oregon for the Olympic trials, she learned from a reporter that her mother had died.

Enter politics. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York joined forces with Rep. Jamie Raskin from Maryland to call on the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to reverse its suspension. Lacking any scientific basis, AOC said in a tweet, “The rule is rooted solely in the systemic racism that’s long driven anti-marijuana laws.”


History shows a strong case for that, and you don’t have to be a critical race theorist to believe it.

But the unfortunate intersection of racial politics with this year’s Olympics doesn’t end there.

During the medal ceremony for the Olympic trials in Oregon, Gwen Berry, third-place finisher in the hammer throw, turned away from the flag and she indignantly held up a T-shirt reading “Activist Athlete” and draped it over her head.

She made a similar protest statement and lost some of her sponsorships after raising her fist in protest on the podium at the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru. Her purpose, in the fashion of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s taking a knee during the anthem, was to protest social injustice in America. That’s a worthy cause but hardly a breakthrough after more than a year of racial reckoning following George Floyd’s death.


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