"I greatly apologize if I let you guys down, and I did."
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Sha'carri Richardson
Credit: Patrick Smith, Getty Images

It's the news that rocked the world over the weekend: Due to a positive drug test result for THC (marijuana), Sha'Carri Richardson is suspended from representing Team USA in her signature race, the 100-meter sprint, at the Olympics this summer. Richardson has now responded since the news broke, telling Today that she had been using marijuana to cope with the loss of her biological mother, whose death she had learned about just days before competing at the Olympic Trials. Even more unsettling, she was first notified about her mother's death by a reporter during an interview. She was blindsided and went into "a state of emotional panic." 

"We all have our different struggles," she exclusively told Today host Savannah Guthrie on Friday, July 2nd. "But to put on a face, to have to go in front of the world and put on a face and hide my pain, like, who are you? Who am I to tell you how to cope when you're dealing with a pain or you're dealing with a struggle you've never experienced before?"

Richardson was deemed the fastest woman in the world after her Olympic Trials 100-meter sprint time of 10.86 seconds. This year, the US Olympic Track and Field Trials were held in Eugene, Oregon, which is one of the 19 states where marijuana use is legal. However, USA Track and Field does not abide by the same standing and considers THC an anti-doping rule violation. 

"I want to take responsibility for my actions. I know what I did, I know what I'm supposed to do...and I still made that decision," Richardson said. 

While it appears Richardson will not be wearing the stars and stripes uniform in Tokyo this summer, she took to Twitter on July 3rd to thank and promise fans that her track and field journey is far from over and she's looking forward to being "your World Champ" next year.

She tweeted a big thank you to her track and field community and fans, both new and old, who've been cheering her on through this exciting and now difficult time. 

Shortly thereafter, Richardson sent out another tweet vowing to make up for her Olympic absence at the Track and Field World Championship next year.

Before the camera shut off on her Today interview, Richardson issued an apology to everyone in the community and at home who has been rooting for her success in Tokyo. Although her emotions were valid, she's publicly stating she understands her actions were not.

"As much as I'm disappointed, I know that when I step on the track, I don't represent myself. I represent a community that has shown me great support, great love, and I failed you all," she said. " So I apologize for the fact that I didn't know how to control my emotions or deal with my emotions. I greatly apologize if I let you guys down, and I did."

Despite Richardson's story picking up steam on social media and sparking a larger conversation regarding performance enhancers versus performance diminishers, the likelihood of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) appealing their original decision is not high. There is a possibility that Richardson may be able to compete in another track and field race, but that has yet to be confirmed by the IOC, USATF, or Richardson.