In July 2021, American sprinter Sha’carri Richardson lost her spot on the Olympic track and field team after she tested positive for marijuana use. A few days after Richardson’s suspension was announced, a rumor started circulating on social media that she had been replaced by a Mormon athlete with an anti-drug stance named Rebecca Washington:
This is not a genuine news story. Richardson was not replaced by a runner pushing an anti-drug message, and the woman on the right of this image is not named “Rebecca Washington.” As far as we can tell, there is nobody with this name who could possibly take Richardson’s spot.
The above-displayed tweet comes from the “Victory News Network,” a Twitter account that describes its content as “parody.”
A scroll through this accounts tweets has several other pieces of obvious satire, such as the story about Jell-O re-upping Bill Cosby’s sponsorship deal and Disney renaming Bobba Fett’s ship in the “Star Wars” universe as “Black Lives Matter 1.”
“Jenna Prandini, who placed fourth at the trials, has been notified that she will now be one of the three American women running the 100 in Tokyo, and Gabby Thomas, who finished fifth at the trials, was named as an alternate for the race, the people said.”
The above-displayed meme used an altered photo of Prandini. Here’s a genuine photo of the athlete (right) and the doctored image (left):
Prandini also posted a message on Twitter to make it clear that she has not issued any statements disparaging Richardson.
I’m excited to be representing my country for my second Olympics in the 200 meters! However, I am saddened to have to address the hateful and fake articles now circulating. Any article claiming I have made statements regarding the current situation are completely false.