Zharnel Hughes says he has forgiven CJ Ujah for failing a drug test which cost the British team an Olympic silver medal in the 4x100m because “sometimes these things happen”.
Hughes is looking to redeem himself this year after a false start in the Olympic 100m semi-final. But after running a smooth 10.18 seconds on the first lap of the opening day of British Testing in Manchester, Hughes was in a magnanimous mood when asked about Ujah.
“CJ is a great guy regardless,” Hughes said. “What happened to him is unfortunate, unfortunately. I haven’t spoken to him in a long time but the last time I did he apologized and apologized.
Ujah tested positive for two banned drugs, which he said were in contaminated supplements. But his subsequent apology was received very differently among his teammates.
Reece Prescod, who did not run the relay in Tokyo, has pledged to forgive Ujah. However, Richard Kilty, who ran the third leg of the 4x100m at the Olympics, called Prescod’s view “bullshit” and condemned Ujah for his negligence.
However, Hughes insisted he was also ready to forgive and forget when asked about his case at Manchester. “I forgive her,” he said. “Sometimes these things happen, which is very sad in his case, but I wish him the best for the future.”
“I can’t change anything,” he added. “It’s already gone. We’ve been taken out of the history books. It’s sad, but I can’t do anything about it.
Hughes clocked the second-fastest time in qualifying for Saturday’s semi-finals, behind Ojie Edoburun, who clocked home in 10.13 seconds.
Meanwhile, Prescod, who is the favorite for the event, ran 10.22 despite his usual slow start and coming back to a trot. “It was comfortable but tomorrow I will have more fire,” he promised. Prescod also expressed sympathy for Britain’s head coach Christian Malcolm, who last week discovered his job was lost in a restructuring of British athletics.
“I was upset because I love Christian so much,” he said. “It’s good to have a head coach who is also a sprinter. He and Darren Campbell were always helping me. It will be upsetting if Christian is gone,” he added. I feel like in athletics and UKA there’s so much change, half the time you stick with your team.”
Meanwhile, in the women’s 100m, Daryll Neita and Dina Asher-Smith both looked hugely impressive as they qualified for the semis in 11.04 and 11.16 seconds respectively. It was on this track in Manchester a year ago that Asher-Smith suffered a torn hamstring that robbed her of a golden chance to win an Olympic medal. But there was no sign of nervousness as she raced to victory in her heat.
“The goal was to qualify, come back tomorrow and come back up a bit,” she said. I’m fine, I can’t wait, I’ve wanted to do 100m again for a few weeks after Préfontaine [the Classic, in Oregon].
“I have things to work on, more technical things that I want to make sure I do well in these races before the world championships.”