Disgraced sprinter CJ Ujah has broken his silence on the failed drugs test which cost him and three 4x100m relay teammates an Olympic medal, blaming a £10 supplement bought off Amazon.
In Tokyo last summer, the quartet of Ujah, Richard Kilty, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, and Zharnel Hughes won silver behind Italy following a thrilling finale. Ujah, 28, had given Team GB the lead after the opening leg, and they maintained their advantage until the final few metres before Filippo Tortu overhauled Mitchell-Blake at the death.
However, Team GB were then stripped of their medals when it emerged that Ujah had failed a drugs test, because of a substance he claimed was an amino acid supplement that he bought off Amazon. On Monday, he was banned for 22 months by the Athletics Integrity Unit, with a chunk of it backdated meaning he'll be free to compete in June next year.
Speaking to the Guardian, Ujah admitted to making a "mistake," but maintained that at no point had he tried to cheat.
“It [Amazon] was just convenient, with next-day delivery,” he said. “And I didn’t think anything was wrong with it. The hardest moment was when I first saw my family. My mum was crying. My dad was very upset.
“And then I started crying too, because my mum was crying. Suddenly I had this stain against my name. It hurt so much and it still does.”
Ujah is only the third Briton to test positive at an Olympics after 1988 Judo player Kerrith Brown and 2002 slalom skier Alain Baxter.
The sprinter also revealed what he's since told his teammates, with Kilty in particular having publicly criticised his "reckless" error.
"I told them: ‘Listen. I wouldn’t jump on a flight to Tokyo knowing I could put you in a bad position. I wouldn’t do that’," he said. “Reckless is a harsh word. I saw the criticism from Kilty and I can’t blame him. He’s got a family. He’s got kids. So I do sympathise with him and understand the position he’s coming from.”
Ujah had been taking the contaminated supplement for weeks before the Olympics, but the results of his final drugs test in May did not come out until all was said and done in Japan. And he admits he wishes the findings had been produced earlier, which would have spared his fellow athletes being disqualified with him.
"I wish I had been tested right before the Olympics, so that I never went,” he said. "That way, I would never have put these other three guys, my teammates, through what they went through as well as myself.”
Ujah faced the possibility of a four-year ban was shown leniency by the AIU, who established his drug violation "was not intentional as a result of his ingestion of a contaminated supplement." But despite declaring himself satisfied at the "truth" coming out, the 2017 World Championship gold medalist accepted his reputation now lay in tatters.
"Some people were thinking, ‘this guy is hiding’. I wasn’t hiding. I was going through a legal procedure where I couldn’t comment," he explained. "You do all these good things in your career and suddenly everything is put into question. It does hurt, especially when you train so hard to be the best.”