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Port Arthur’s Inika McPherson weighs in on Sha’Carri Richardson being left off Olympic roster

Inika McPherson knows the heartache of not making the Olympic roster.

The Memorial High graduate understands missing out of performing on the world stage after working hard for five years.

Sha’Carri Richardson, who was expected to anchor the women’s 4×400 team, was not selected for the roster after a drug test revealed marijuana use.

McPherson, a Port Arthur native who represented the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics, was passed over for the 2021 games despite a top showing during the Olympic Trials. She hopes Richardson continues to focus on her metal health during a difficult time.

“She came out and took full responsibility,” McPherson said. “I have been down at times and felt like I have had to go do something else outside of myself to cope with myself. You have to tell a friend or family member how you are feeling.”

McPherson said life as someone training as an athlete can be difficult.

“I have had suicidal thoughts and mental breakdowns,” she said. “I called on Jesus, and God walked me towards my family, who helped me out of that dark time. For Sha’Carri, I think it is more than just track and field and running a 100. She is a person on this planet that we are all responsible for.”

Read more about Inika McPherson’s 2021 Olympic pursuit here.

McPherson said people should be able to learn from their mistakes and find redemption.

“What are we telling the youth,” McPherson said. “Are we telling them that if you make a mistake, we are going to shun you? No, we are going to help you.”

With many states legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, many in the country has questioned whether or not athletes should even be tested for it, especially since it does not enhance one’s performance.

McPherson said Richardson knew the rules.

“It is very murky,” McPherson said. “In competition, it is illegal. Outside of competition, it is not illegal. What they are saying is that you can smoke as long as you are not competing. If you are competing, you have to make dang sure it is out of your system. If you are making it illegal, do it across the board so there are no mistakes.”

McPherson said she does not think athletes should be allowed to smoke marijuana.

“Yes, it is legal in many states, but it should not be in sports because it is not something for everyone,” she said. “It has a mental effect on you and a psychological effect on you. A lot of kids are smoking it now because it is legal. It is still a drug. If you are going to make it legal, make it legal with some education.”

USA Track and Field did not return Port Arthur Newsmedia requests for comment.

McPherson is a 2005 Memorial High School graduate and was also named her school’s Athlete of the Year at the University of California in 2009. She went on to represent the U.S. at the 2016 Rio Olympics.