CJ Ujah: British sprinter cleared of deliberately taking banned substance at Tokyo Olympics as ban cut
Spinter CJ Ujah has been cleared of deliberately taking a banned substance following the failed drugs test which saw Great Britain’s men’s 4x100m relay team stripped of their Olympic silver medals last summer.
Ujah tested positive for two banned substances - ostarine and S-23 - during the Tokyo Games, and was facing a possible four-year ban but has instead been hit with a reduced 22-month punishment after an investigation found the violation was “not intentional” and came as a result of a contaminated supplement.
Ujah was part of a British quartet, alongside Richard Kilty, Nathaneel Mitchell-Blake and Zharnel Hughes, that finished just 0.01seconds behind gold medalists Italy in Tokyo but they were forced to forfeit their place on the podium following the failed test.
That decision stands and Ujah must still serve a ban due to rules which leave athletes with ultimate responsibility for what goes into their bodies.
However, the 28-year-old has had two months knocked off the standard two-year ban for such offences on account of his swift admission of the violation. That reduction is significant: backdated to start on the date of the failed test (August 6, 2021), Ujah’s ban runs until early June next year, meaning he will be allowed to return to competition in time to compete for a place on the British team for next summer’s World Championships in Budapest, which start in mid-August.
UK Athletics, though, issued a strong statement in response to to Ujah’s punishment, expressing little sympathy with the sprinter despite the ruling, which clears him of any deliberate attempt to cheat.
“At UKA we are committed to a culture that supports the athletes individual and collective responsibility to clean sport,” the governing body said. “We therefore express our extreme disappointment, frustration and sadness that the actions of CJ Ujah resulted in the GB & NI team members forfeiting their hard-earned medals.
“The negligence of one individual to fulfil their commitment to clean athletics – one of the essential obligations of representing GB & NI – had a devastating impact upon the entire relay programme, but none more so than the other athletes who competed alongside Ujah in the Olympic final.”
The head of the Athletics Integrity Unit, Brett Clothier, also urged athletes to be more vigilant.
“In this case, after a thorough examination of the facts, we were satisfied that Mr Ujah did indeed ingest a contaminated supplement, but he was unable to demonstrate that he was entitled to any reduction in the applicable period of ineligibility based on his level of fault,” said Clothier.
“Taking supplements is risky for athletes as they can be contaminated or even adulterated with prohibited substances. Athletes owe it to their fellow competitors to be 100 per cent certain before putting anything into their body. If there’s the slightest doubt, leave it out.”