Allyson Felix wants people to give Sha’Carri Richardson ‘support she needs’

Richardson was disqualified from the Tokyo Olympic Games after testing positive for THC in July

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Allyson Felix, an 11-time Olympic medalist, is calling on sports fans to “rally around” Sha’Carri Richardson after the 21-year-old sprinter finished last place at the Prefontaine Classic on Saturday. 

Felix, 35, appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Monday and dished with guest host Stephen A. Smith about competing in her fifth and final Olympic Games this summer. She also sent some love to Richardson, PEOPLE reports. 

“I know that she’s obviously been through so much and I hope that she’s just supported. I hope people rally around her,” Felix said. “Obviously she has a great personality and she’s brought a lot of attention to the sport and I think she’ll be in the sport for a very long time.” 

Richardson’s return to competition at Saturday’s Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, was her first race since being disqualified from the Tokyo Olympic Games after testing positive for THC in July, theGrio reported.

Featuring in her signature 100-meter event, Richardson faced all three medalists from the Olympic 100-meter event in Tokyo — Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson — but came up short, finishing in last place with a time of 11.14 seconds.

Allyson Felix, Sha’Carri Richardson (Getty Images)

“It was a great return back to the sport,” Richardson said in an interview with NBC’s Lewis Johnson after her loss. “I wanted to be able to come and perform having a month off, dealing with all I was dealing with.”

“I’m not upset with myself at all,” she added. “This is one race. I’m not done. You know what I’m capable of. Count me out if you want to. Talk all the s— you want because I’m here to stay.”

“I’m not done. I’m the sixth-fastest woman in this game, ever, and can’t nobody ever take that away from me,” Richardson said with a smile on her face. “Congratulations to the winners. Congratulations to the people that won, but they’re not done seeing me yet — period.” 

Richardson’s underwhelming return sparked a wave of criticism on social media, but Felix is calling for compassion and urging the haters to “give her the support that she needs.”

Richardson spoke of her suspension from the Olympics during a gut-wrenching interview with Today in July. She said her struggles with the loss of her mother and the pressure of her track career contributed to her using marijuana to cope.

“Every time I step on the track, it’s expected to be a record-breaking time,” she said.

In response to Today host Savannah Guthrie asking how she came to test positive, Richardson began, “I want to take responsibility for my actions. I know what I’m supposed to do. I know what I’m allowed not to do and still made that decision.”

Continuing, she said, “I’m not making an excuse. I’m not looking for any empathy in my case … however, being in that position of my life, finding something out, finding out something like that, something that I would say is probably one of the biggest things to impact me positively and negatively in my life when it comes to dealing with the relationship I had with my mother. It definitely was a heavy topic on me.”

“People don’t understand what’s like to have to — or people do, we all have our struggles, we all have our different things we deal with — but to have to go out in front of the world and put on a face and hide my pain … who am I to tell you how to cope when you’re dealing with pain or a struggle you’ve never experienced before?”

After her stunning loss over the weekend, Richardson tweeted Monday: “Only way from 9th is up!” she wrote.

This story contains additional reporting from Biba Adams

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