‘Heartbroken’ Richard Kilty on mission to replace Olympic medal lost after CJ Ujah’s failed drug test in Tokyo

  • Ujah was cleared of intentional doping, but still received a 22-month ban
  • The 30-year-old will reunite with Hughes, Mitchell-Blake and Kilty in the Bahamas
  • Kilty has previously said he will never be able to forgive him for losing a medal

Just two years ago, a heartbroken Richard Kilty declared he would never forgive CJ Ujah.

The Teesside sprinter had just received confirmation that he would lose the Olympic silver medal he won in Tokyo due to Ujah’s failed drugs test.

And while the other two members of Britain’s second-placed 4x100m relay quartet, Zharnel Hughes and Nethaanel Mitchell-Blake, refused to criticize their teammate, Kilty couldn’t hide his anger, describing Ujah as ‘sloppy and reckless’ .

At the time, in February 2022, it seemed unlikely that Kilty and Ujah would ever speak again, let alone be part of the same squad again.

And yet here we are, less than three months away from another Olympic Games, and the pair are back together this weekend to represent their country at the World Athletics Relays in the Bahamas.

Teesside sprinter Richard Kilty (above) is on a mission to replace his lost Olympic medal

How does Kilty feel about his unexpected reunion with Ujah? “It’s strictly business,” the 34-year-old tells Mail Sport from the British team hotel in Nassau ahead of Saturday night’s 4x100m heats.

“I am always a very honest person and the things I have said are public. But I’m trying not to focus on that right now.

‘No matter who I am in the starting line-up with, I just have to do my bit for the team, regardless of friendships, personalities or any previous history.

“It’s not personal here, we’re just here to all do our best to qualify for the Olympics.

“Whatever it takes to be the best team player, I will do. I’m not going to try to burn the team. I just want to be the best teammate I can, given these circumstances.

“Everyone here is trying to focus on the future and what we can potentially achieve rather than living in the past.

“Obviously a lot has happened since 2021, but this is business. We all have our own missions and paths to redemption, but the way we do that is by being a team.”

CJ Ujah on course to return to the British 4x100m relay team after suspension

Ujah, who was acquitted of intentional doping after unknowingly ingesting a contaminated substance he bought from Amazon, returned from his 22-month ban last June. But it was still a big surprise when it was announced last month that the 30-year-old would be part of the eight-man British 4x100m squad for the World Relays, which act as qualifiers for the Paris Olympics.

Before the team was released, Kilty had conversations with relay coach Darren Campbell about the awkward situation. And he agreed to put aside all grievances in his bid to win an Olympic medal, which he will hopefully keep this time.

“That’s the only thing I’m thinking about at the moment,” admits the former world indoor champion in the 60 meters. ‘I’m not going to let personal matters get in the way of that, because I know that can be a heavy burden.

‘You cannot include any unnecessary stress or emotions. I know that will hold me back and hold the team back. It must all be positive.

“I’m just really happy to have the opportunity to be healthy again, prove myself and do my best to be on that team and win an Olympic medal.”

That chance seemed unlikely a few months ago. Kilty was cut from lottery funding last year and was all set to hang up his spikes and become a coach, having worked with the British sprint relay teams last summer after an injury ruined his own running chances.

“I was very, very, very close to retirement,” he admits. ‘Last year I coached the British team in Budapest and got a great response. It seemed like that was where my career lay.

Ujah – along with his three teammates Zharnel Hughes, Richard Kilty and Nethaanel Mitchell-Blake – was stripped of his silver medal in Tokyo after testing positive

“At the time, I was probably unsure if I could run another year. With my abilities as a coach, I am sure that in my lifetime I will eventually become one of the best sprint coaches in the world.

‘But I decided to participate for another year. I thought to myself, “Ten years from now, I wouldn’t wish I could have stayed another year to see what my body could do.”

‘I just thought, ‘You know what, I’ve still got a year left, it’s the Olympics, I’d be crazy to turn my back on it less than a year before Paris. I’m going to throw the kitchen sink at this.”

‘Now I’m here, injury-free and feeling great. I feel like I’m in really, really good shape and I’m really happy to be back in the team.”

Had Kilty not been on the Bahamas circuit, he might have found himself on the BBC bench, having proven himself to be an adept athletics expert in recent times.

“Every time I’m on the BBC I get thousands of Twitter messages, lots of positive feedback,” he says. ‘It’s very repetitive on the BBC at the moment and I might offer something different. I am raw and honest. I think they need a little bit of a realignment there.”

Kilty is also planning his future after racing by setting up his own athletics academy in Middlesbrough, a community business offering free coaching to disadvantaged children, which he hopes to open in September.

“Without sports, I probably would have been just another crime statistic,” he says. ‘Sport has completely saved my life. I want to use my experiences to help other people who may not have had as many opportunities in life to better themselves.”

Kilty (right, with Mitchell-Blake) has previously said he will never forgive his teammate

But before all that, he wants one last tango in Paris and to be part of the first British 4x100m relay team to win Olympic gold since Campbell, Jason Gardener, Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis beat the US in Athens in 2004.

“Darren reminds us of that very regularly,” Kilty laughs. “He had Mark make a little video for us at camp this week, talking about how special it was.

“It will be great to win a gold medal 20 years later with Darren as coach. It will be an incredible story.

“For me, there is definitely some unfinished business this year that I want to take care of before I close the door on my career.”