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Sha'Carri Richardson won't be competing in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, but thanks to Kanye West, she's remaining in the public eye.
Richardson, suspended over a failed drug test after establishing herself as one of the fastest women on the planet, is the centerpiece of a new Beats ad soundtracked with a new song from West. The ad appeared during Game 6 of the NBA Finals, and features Richardson preparing to launch out of the blocks:
Visible are Richardson's trademark nails and hair, key elements of the persona that could help her gain awareness and clout even though she's not competing in this year's Olympics.
Richardson tested positive for THC, the primary psychoactive compound of marijuana, in June. Her Olympic-worthy 100-meter time of 10.86 seconds at the U.S. track trials was disqualified, and Richardson was suspended by anti-doping officials for 30 days. That prevented her from competing in the event at the Olympics, and USA Track & Field declined to name her to the 4x100 relay team.
Losing out on a spot on Team USA, and a possible gold medal, surely harms Richardson's earning potential for the immediate future. But sports marketing experts note that Richardson is a dynamic figure even without the medal, and could in fact turn the setback into an opportunity.
The Beats ad uses a new West song, "No Child Left Behind," as its soundtrack, and features the tagline "Love Your Truth" as a kicker. That's exactly the kind of message that could resonate well for Richardson, who owned up to the fact that she turned to marijuana upon learning of the death of her birth mother.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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