U.S. track and field star Sha’Carri Richardson has an important question for the International Olympic Committee: Why was she unable to compete in Tokyo but Russian ice skater Kamila Valieva was cleared to compete in Beijing?

Richardson questioned the IOC’s decision — which was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Sunday — asking what the difference was between her case and Valieva’s case. Richardson then wondered whether the decision was racially motivated, saying, "The only difference I see is I’m a black young lady."

Can we get a solid answer on the difference of her situation and mines? 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. https://t.co/JtUfmp3F8L

— Sha’Carri Richardson (@itskerrii) February 14, 2022

On Sunday, Valieva was cleared to compete despite testing positive for trimetazidine, a banned substance. Trimetazidine is typically used in heart patients. It’s believed to increase stamina in athletes. The CAS determined keeping Valieva — a gold-medal favorite — out of the Olympics would "cause her irreparable harm." The Court of Arb

The decision was met with disappointment by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, who called it "another chapter in the systemic and pervasive disregard for clean sport by Russia."

Richardson and Valieva’s cases contain at least one major difference. Valieva is considered a "Protected Person" since she’s under 16 years of age. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) installed the "Protected Person" clause to give younger athletes more protection due to their "lack of legal capacity." WADA criticized CAS’ decision in a statement Monday.

Sha’Carri Richardson suspended after marijuana test

Richardson found herself in a similar situation prior to the Tokyo Olympics. Richardson tested positive for marijuana prior to the Games, and received a suspension that kept her from competing in Tokyo. The World Anti-Doping Agency considers marijuana a drug of abuse, and not a performance-enhancing drug. The organization admitted it would look into marijuana’s status as a banned substance after Richardson’s positive test. Marijuana is legal in a number of U.S. states.

Richardson — who was a gold-medal favorite in the 100-meter event — said she used marijuana after the death of her biological mother. She accepted the suspension. Richardson could have appealed, but her attorney, Marlon Hill, said he felt it was unlikely the suspension would be overturned.

Sha'Carri Richardson with U.S. track and field.
Sha’Carri Richardson questioned why Kamila Valieva is allowed to compete at the Olympics. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)