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AOC blames Sha'Carri Richardson's Olympics suspension on racism and colonialism

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Scott Halleran/Getty Images (background), BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP (right)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y) claimed Friday the suspension of American sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson is yet another example of racism and colonialism at work.

The International Olympic Committee triggered outrage after suspending Richardson for 30 days after she tested positive for marijuana use. Critics pointed to the fact that marijuana use has been legalized for recreational use, medical use, or decriminalized in most U.S. states.

According to the Associated Press, Richardson used marijuana in Oregon, where marijuana use is legal. Despite her brief suspension, which ends on July 27 and prevents her from running in the 100-meter competition, Richardson will be allowed to participate in the 4X100-meter relay in Tokyo.

What did AOC say?

The progressive Democrat blasted the IOC, and demanded the international body reverse its decision.

"The criminalization and banning of cannabis is an instrument of racist and colonial policy," Ocasio-Cortez said.

"The IOC should reconsider its suspension of Ms. Richardson and any athletes penalized for cannabis use," she added. "This ruling along w/IOC denial of swim caps for natural hair is deeply troubling."

What is racist about it?

Advocates for criminal justice reform who claim the so-called "war on drugs" has failed argue that drug enforcement policies disproportionately target black Americans and other people of color.

John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, explains:

All along, one consistent target for the nation's cannabis laws were communities of color. Despite cannabis usage rates between whites and non-whites being similar, Black Americans are arrested for cannabis offenses at a rate of nearly 4:1, compared to whites. And in a nation with nearly 700,000 cannabis-related arrests each year (a number that was over 800,000 a few years ago), these policies affect an enormous number of Americans.

The Marijuana Policy Project similarly claims: "Although cannabis use is roughly equal among blacks and whites, African Americans are over three times more likely to be arrested or cited for cannabis possession as compared to whites, according to an ACLU review of government data."

What did Richardson say?

Richardson has taken full responsibility for her actions.

"I just want to take responsibility for my actions, I know what I did, I know what I'm supposed to do, I'm allowed not to do and I still made that decision. I'm not making an excuse or looking for any empathy in my case," she said Friday.

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