Marvel actor Anthony Mackie is the latest celebrity to speak out on behalf of Black athletes Sha'Carri Richardson and Naomi Osaka. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier star addressed the issues surrounding the two athletes in his opening monology at the 2021 ESPY Awards on Saturday night, first cracking a joke about Richardson's suspension from the Tokyo Olympics after a positive marijuana test. "The greatest celebration of sports is back! We up here on a rooftop in New York City. Man, we're so high they wouldn't let us compete in the Olympics," Mackie quipped.
Later on in his speech, Mackie brought up Richardson again. "USA Track & Field: How you mess it up, dog? How do you justify banning Sha'Carri Richardson for smoking weed?" he said. "Weed is a de-hancing drug — it doesn't make you do anything but want to watch another episode of Bob's Burgers. You never saw Snoop Dogg run anywhere!"
"I don't know how you justify not letting her run," he continued. "And I don't know how you punish Naomi Osaka for prioritizing her mental health." Osaka, a 23-year-old star tennis player, was recently fined for skipping media obligations at the French Open in May due to mental health concerns. "That's crazy. I'm no tennis exec, I don't know, but if my sport had one of the most popular and marketable athletes on the planet, you know what I would do?" Mackie said. "I would probably make sure she felt comfortable and respected. But hey, what do I know, right? I'm just Captain America."
Richardson used marijuana while in Oregon, where the drug is legal, after she found out from a reporter that her biological mother had died. After the failed drug test, Richardson accepted the suspension and offered a public apology. "I apologize," Richardson said on TODAY. "As much as I'm disappointed I know that when I step on the track I represent not only myself, I represent a community that has shown great support, great love ... I apologize for the fact that I didn't know how to control my emotions or deal with my emotions during that time."
"Richardson explained that she knew the rules but had used marijuana as a coping mechanism after the devastating news. "We all have our different struggles, we all have our different things we deal with, but to put on a face and have to go out in front of the world and put on a face and hide my pain," Richardson said. "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 that you've never experienced before or that you never thought you'd have to deal with. Who am I to tell you how to cope? Who am I to tell you you're wrong for hurting?"