Tag Archives: Richard Kilty

Bernice Wilson: I was forced into doping by my coach

The bleakness of Bernice Wilson’s story was seldom so stark as when she presented herself at her mother’s front door, blood streaming down her face.

She had just told her boyfriend, the disgraced athletics coach George Skafidas, that she wanted to leave him. In response, he hit her, just one manifestation of what the UK’s National Anti-Doping panel would later describe as a “troubled and abusive relationship”. This should, Wilson reflects, have been her cue to sever all ties. And yet the pair reunited, sparking a spiral of betrayal that would leave her scrambling to recover not just her reputation but any semblance of a future.

Once, Wilson was one of the country’s most gifted young sprinters, representing Britain at the 2011 European Indoors in Paris. Today, at 38, she combines her work in infection control at a Nottinghamshire hospital with mentoring some of the county’s finest athletes. In the intervening years, her life entered the type of nightmarish doom-loop that, even in her own retelling, she struggles to comprehend. The one consistent figure is that of Skafidas, the man whom she trusted with her career but who would later admit to having doped her, initially with her knowledge but subsequently by deceit, swapping her multivitamin tablets with doses of clomiphene, a prohibited stimulant.

It is Wilson’s cross to bear that she will always be known for the two drug bans she has served. The prospect grieves her, in part because of the talent she knew she possessed. “I was a good athlete,” she says. “Sometimes, when people see a ban, they think your whole career was a fake – and it wasn’t.”

But she is also anxious to ensure that her poor choices are not presented without context. For they were, she stresses, defined not just by doping, but by mendacity and abuse, perpetrated by a man who controlled her to the extent of checking her phone and destroying her letters, and who haunted her so persistently that her flat in Newark needed to be equipped by police with a panic button.

Skafidas admitted all nine charges brought against him in 2016 by the UK Anti-Doping Agency, which included giving Wilson clenbuterol and knowingly disposing of correspondence informing her that she had tested positive. The panel’s verdict was unequivocal: in applying the rare punishment of a lifetime ban from coaching, it concluded that Skafidas’s offences were “clearly at the most serious end of the spectrum, considering his relationship with the athlete, the steps he took to induce her to take doping agents, the risk to her health, the jeopardy in which he placed her, the cover-up of his violations, and the effect his conduct has had on her life”.

It added: “Dr Skafidas had a personal relationship with the athlete from 2008 and she was clearly under his influence. He was physically and emotionally abusive to her and she was frightened of him.”

Wilson recounts her astonishing tale with a disarming equanimity. During an hour-long interview, she displays not a shred of self-pity. Instead, she expresses a determination to emerge from Skafidas’s shadow, highlighting her engagement to a new partner, her plans to move house, and her efforts to make peace with the past by becoming a strident anti-doping advocate. Her experience raises profound questions, though, about society’s perception of those who have doped and whether long-term forgiveness is even possible.

The world of athletics has been convulsed by the fallout from CJ Ujah’s failed drugs test, for which the British sprinter blamed a contaminated supplement after the banned substances ostarine and S23 were found in his urine. Ujah and all three of his sprint-relay team-mates were stripped of the silver medals they won at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics. For one, Richard Kilty, the souring of his proudest moment on the track warrants anything but clemency. When Reece Prescod suggested last week that Ujah should not be ostracised, Kilty shot back: “It’s b——-. Reece is not in a position to forgive anybody, because he hasn’t lost a medal.”

Wilson, while wary of criticising Kilty, highlights the dangers of consigning any athlete to permanent pariah status. “If Richard Kilty doesn’t want to forgive, that’s that,” she says. “If he was told to forgive, it might make it worse. I can understand – and this might sound weird coming from me – what he’s saying. Part of me just hopes CJ Ujah is OK mentally, because it can be such a lonely place. He will probably feel everybody is against him, not just his team-mates.”

The sense of isolation is what cut deepest for Wilson as her life with Skafidas span out of control. When the domestic violence began, she felt, ultimately, that she had nowhere to turn. “Some of my family knew,” she explains. “It became very dangerous, to be honest. They wanted me to move out, which eventually I did. But I never thought I would be in that situation. If people hear about this type of story, they think, ‘Oh, just leave, get rid of him’. But it’s so hard to do.

“I thought I depended on him. George didn’t like me to socialise with others. He would go through my phone. Not long before I first tested positive, my dad passed away. It was a really dark time. I felt alone, as if everything he said was correct. Even though other people can see the problem, sometimes you can’t. It’s really strange. Sometimes it takes something drastic to happen for you to say, ‘Oh my God, what am I doing with my life? I’ve got to get out’.”

The events of 2011 triggered just such a visceral response. A sample that Wilson had given on June 12, at a track meeting in Bedford, came back positive for testosterone and clenbuterol, a banned anabolic steroid. Skafidas had insisted she take the drugs, knowing they could improve her endurance. “When it was first put to me, I thought, ‘No I can’t do that’. Then George said, ‘Well, everyone does it and you’ll be the odd one out’. I had heard the stories about bans, but I wasn’t aware how bad things could become.”

Skafidas, then a UK Athletics-licensed coach, ran a training group for young athletes in Lincolnshire, where he first came into contact with Wilson. She was under the impression that he knew exactly what her body needed for peak performance, even though he had no medical qualifications.

While he was entitled to be known as Dr Skafidas, his only doctorate had been earned in sports science, in Bulgaria. The cost of following his prescribed doping regime was grievous: aged 27, at a pivotal juncture in her career, she was banned for four years.

Behind the scenes, Wilson was not just being manipulated – “I took the blame for everything,” she says – but abused. “We were in George’s car,” she recalls. “It was quite late at night, and when I said I didn’t want to be in the relationship, he hit me. When my mum opened the door, she saw blood down me.”

Asked why they later reconciled, Wilson says that she felt pressured into doing so, pointing out how Skafidas would wait outside her mother’s house for her to appear. It was a move she would soon come to regret. For while Wilson resolved to be fastidious in her attempts to compete clean, her coach was secretly meddling with her medication. “I just had normal Holland & Barrett vitamins in my cupboard,” she says. “George still said, ‘You should be taking drugs’. And I said no. I was so careful with everything I put in my body. But he was swapping my tablets for a banned substance. I never knew that someone would do that to me.”

When a letter confirming a positive reading for clomiphene arrived in April 2015, Wilson was none the wiser, as Skafidas had hidden it from her. Only a phone call from UKAD at work revealed the picture of how cynically she had been tricked. The outlook was grim, with Wilson facing a 40-month suspension, the minimum sanction for a second offence, and by extension the loss of any athletics hopes. Except this time, she had evidence of Skafidas’s deviousness, showing her solicitor a video of a Skype conversation in which her ex-boyfriend, by then back in Greece, had admitted to changing her tablets.

“I played the video in UKAD’s office. It was very embarrassing, full of me swearing at George. But I knew that things would be different this time, because it all came out about how George had been with me. It was only when I was driving home that I felt this huge relief. A rainbow even came out across the road. I took it as a sign that everything was going to be OK.”

It might be too glib to suggest the scars have healed. Having had her ban cut to 10 months thanks to her exposure of Skafidas, it took her longer to cut him adrift. For years, he would continue to send her 12 red roses on Valentine’s Day against her wishes. She is now so paranoid about pills that she refuses even to take paracetamol for a headache.

But there are signs, through Wilson’s happiness in her coaching and in the passion of her anti-doping message, that the pall of darkness might be lifting. The stigma will linger, as it will for any banned athlete, but her suffering at Skafidas’s hands offers a vivid warning against damning her for a lifetime.

How athletics became addicted to supplements

At times during her two-year doping ban, South African 100 metres record holder Carina Horn’s depression plunged to such depths that she considered taking her own life. “I thought about getting in the car, drinking whatever and driving at 200kph,” she admitted.

Horn’s crime was to be lured into a glitzy, celebrity-endorsed, multi-billion pound sports supplement industry that promises so much, but has the capacity to ruin careers.

Forced to fly directly to South Africa from a competition in Switzerland due to visa issues, Horn had been without her usual arsenal of trusted supplements – legal dietary products that aid physical performance – which had remained at her training base in Austria.

Attempting to walk the precarious tightrope of maximising her physical potential while not straying into the realms of illegality, she bought some replacement supplements over the counter in South Africa. When two of those – including the startlingly-named Mutant Madness – turned out to be contaminated with illegal substances, Horn fell foul of doping regulations and had her world rocked overnight.

It was a familiar feeling for the GB men’s 4x100m team last week when they were formally stripped of their Olympic silver medal following CJ Ujah’s failed drugs test. While three of them – Richard Kilty, Zharnel Hughes and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake – suffered the harshest punishment through no fault of their own, Ujah has been left fighting for his reputation and career.

Having not challenged the result of his positive test for two banned muscle-building substances, Ostarine and S-23, he instead sought to explain the offence while awaiting sanction.

Like Horn, Ujah said he “unknowingly consumed a contaminated supplement”. According to Kilty, Ujah told team-mates the supplement had not been batch-tested and therefore was not certified for use by Informed Sport, a standard that British Athletics insists athletes adhere to.

Although precise details will not emerge until Ujah’s case concludes and the authorities determine whether his contamination argument is valid, the overriding question is why Ujah felt the need to risk his livelihood by taking such supplements.

A 2001 study funded by the International Olympic Committee into 634 supplements from 13 different Western countries found 14.8 per cent contained prohibited substances not listed on the label. Yet despite athletes being solely responsible for everything in their body, regardless of how it got there, and all leading anti-doping organisations warning against supplement use, it is almost unheard of for an international-level athlete not to take a supplement of some form.

“We understand that supplement use is very common,” said UK Anti-Doping head of education Paul Moss. “It’s a multi-billion dollar industry with some really aggressive marketing campaigns around it. It’s there and it’s not going to stop.

“It’s really difficult when you have a supplement with the face of a global superstar sportsperson endorsing it and saying it has changed their life.”

Aware that telling athletes not to take supplements is a futile battle, authorities instead urge them to use organisations like Informed Sport to ensure substances are batch-tested and certified. For British athletes, it is a message regularly promoted, including in a 45-minute mandatory workshop before last summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

“I can’t just go into a Holland & Barrett and pick up any protein shake off the shelf,” said Kilty. “You’ve got to follow the rules and that means checking all of your supplements. Preferably not taking supplements if you can, but we all do take supplements, but they are all on Informed Sport.”

One sprinter who competed at the Tokyo Games told Telegraph Sport that supplements are seen as “100 per cent legal performance enhancers” in a sport where medals are decided by miniscule margins.

Olympic and world 4x400m relay medalist Martyn Rooney explained: “You’re pushing your body to the limit so you need to support it as much as you can. You supplement with whatever you need to take on.

“It’s just trying to maximise your body without delving into banned substances. From an athlete’s point of view it’s a normal part of life and as long as you’re using Informed Sport it should be fine.”

The problem comes from a discrepancy in standards worldwide. While the 2001 study found an almost 15 per cent supplement contamination rate in Western countries, the risk in more developing countries might be far higher.

Brett Clothier, head of the Athletics Integrity Unit, said: “The reality is that in the majority of places around the world, athletes can’t get access to those reputable supplements so it becomes really risky. It’s really difficult to guarantee anything. That’s why our advice, as a general rule to all athletes, is not to take supplements.”

With a reduction in length of the mandatory four-year doping ban available if athletes can prove a failed test is due to inadvertent ingestion such as supplement contamination, Moss admits that does “at times mean defences are built on spurious attempts to show this when a deliberate doping offence has been made”.

However, of 90 worldwide athletics doping cases that have concluded since the start of 2020, only six have involved supplement contamination, of which three were successfully argued and resulted in shorter bans. Horn’s was one of them.

Analysis of the alarming 10 supplements (including nutritional aids, vitamins, painkillers and sleeping tablets) she was taking at the time of her failed test in 2019 found two were contaminated with the banned substances Ibutamoren and Ligandrol.

Horn also proved she had contacted the chief executive of the supplement company prior to purchase, who wrongly confirmed the products were safe for elite athletes.

“I’d done all my homework, spoken to my coach, and spoken to the CEO so I thought it was all good,” she said. “But it doesn’t matter how much research you do.”

Having concluded Horn had “by the very narrowest of margins” demonstrated the failed test was unintentional, the AIU banned her for two years.

While Ujah’s fate remains unknown, Horn is now free to return to competition after her suspension expired in September. Burned by her experience, she is ready to test the anti-doping agencies’ theories that you can win without additional aid.

“I now don’t feel comfortable taking any supplements,” she said. “I don’t think it’s worth the risk.

“This upcoming season, I’m not going to take anything at all – just Red Bull, Powerade and water. So I will 100 per cent see how much supplements actually help you.”

Source: telegraph.co.uk

Richard Kilty will never forgive CJ Ujah after being stripped the Tokyo Olympics medal

Richard Kilty says he will never forgive CJ Ujah for costing him his Olympic medal.

Six months after winning sprint relay silver in Tokyo, Kilty and team mates had it confirmed that they are to be stripped of it due to Ujah’s failed drugs test.

“It’s officially gone and it’s utterly devastating,” said the Teeside star. “As a team mate I feel let down. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive him.”

Ujah is the third Briton, after 1988 Judo player Kerrith Brown and 2002 slalom skier Alain Baxter, to test positive at an Olympics.

But he is the first whose actions have cost innocent team mates the greatest moment of their sporting careers. “

My dream was always to give my son an Olympic medal to take in and show all the other kids at school,” Kilty said. “

But then the news broke and all that just came tumbling down. Rather than a homecoming celebrating our achievement, it was coming home to explain. “`

What went on? Have you still got your medal? Does your team mate take drugs? “

I didn’t even want to leave the house. It was just exhausting trying to explain myself. We didn’t hear anything from CJ so I had no idea.”

The first they did hear from Ujah was a Zoom call six weeks ago in which he told them he thought the infraction was down to contaminated supplements.

The 27-year old admitted to them they were not batch tested, therefore uncertified for safe use by Informed Sport, as required by British Athletics. “

As a team mate I feel let down,” said Kilty. “We have people working full-time (at UK anti-doping) who do an incredible job educating us: check your supplements, Informed Sport only, update your Adams.” Adams – Anti-Doping Administration & Management System – centralises doping control-related information and makes it easy for the athletes to stay on top of their daily testing commitment. “

Only CJ knows the truth but we’ve got two scenarios here,” Kilty added.

“Either CJ’s taken drugs or he has taken supplements which are not tested. Either way it’s reckless and it’s not playing by the rules. “

And sadly it’s affected his career and three of our careers, our families, absolutely everything. It’s a tragedy for all of us involved.

“He’s apologised to us and our families, he’s genuinely upset, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive him because me, Zharnel and Nethaneel have lost a medal at the hands of his mistakes.

“We’ve worked so, so hard the last six years to create that brotherhood and to finally reach the pinnacle and win an Olympic medal.

“To lose it because one person has just been sloppy and reckless with what’s gone into their body.. it’s heartbreaking.”

Great Britain stripped of Olympic silver medal after Ujah doping confirmed

Great Britain’s 4x100m relay team has been stripped of its Olympic silver medal in the men’s 4x100m relay that they won in Tokyo last August after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld Chijindu Ujah’s anti-doping violation on Friday.

Ujah has been provisionally suspended since Ostarine and S-23 — both substances prohibited by World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) — were detected in his sample in Tokyo.

The CAS had the hearing in November but only revealed on Friday. It found that the 27-year-old sprinter did have two banned substances in a urine sample, ostarine and S-23, which are known as selective androgen receptor modulators that mimic testosterone in the body.

Ujah had blamed his failed test on a contaminated supplement. However under the strict liability rules of the World Anti-Doping Agency that is no defence.

The British men’s quartet of Ujah, Zharnel Hughes, Richard Kilty and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake missed out on the 4x100m title by just a hundredth of a second in Tokyo, as the anchor-leg runner Mitchell-Blake was overhauled on the line by Italy’s Filippo Tortu.

Canada will now be upgraded to silver with China moving into the bronze medal position. “I accept the decision issued by the Court of Arbitration for Sport today with sadness,” Ujah said in a statement issued by UK Athletics.

“I would like to make it clear that I unknowingly consumed a contaminated supplement and this was the reason why an anti-doping rule violation occurred at the Tokyo Olympic Games. “I would like to apologise to my teammates, their families and support teams for the impact which this has had on them. I’m sorry that this situation has cost my teammates the medals they worked so hard and so long for, and which they richly deserved. That is something I will regret for the rest of my life.”

Seb Coe: Track and field dopers are “architects of their own downfall”

Seb Coe says British sprinter CJ Ujah’s ongoing doping case is a painful reminder that athletics is committed to cleaning up its act.

Ujah is provisionally suspended having tested positive for a banned substance after helping Team GB win an Olympic sprint relay silver medal in Tokyo.

The case is with the Anti-Doping Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport and as the year ends the 27-year old has yet to learn his fate.

Ujah insists he is “not a cheat” and has “never and would never knowingly take a banned substance”.

Lord Coe, a former chairman of the British Olympic Association, said that “of course” he would be disappointed were the case against the Londoner to be proven.

It would mean not only him, but team mates Zharnel Hughes, Richard Kilty and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, losing their medals and Team GB giving up the notable achievement of matching their 65-medal haul of London 2012.

But Coe, boss of World Athletics, added that from a broader perspective the case provided further evidence of track and field’s increased determination to protect its competitive integrity.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe ( Image: PA)

“Take Great Britain out of this,” said Coe. “I would share the disappointment in any federation and in any athlete that falls fouls.

“I am sorry to say this, and I am not going to be romantic or emotional about it, they are the architects of their own downfall here. The rules are very clear. It is not arcane maritime law.

“We spend hundreds of thousands of pounds a year through the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), for its education programme, making sure athletes and federations understand what the roles, the rules, the obligations are.

“Take Great Britain out of this,” said Coe. “I would share the disappointment in any federation and in any athlete that falls fouls.

“I am sorry to say this, and I am not going to be romantic or emotional about it, they are the architects of their own downfall here. The rules are very clear. It is not arcane maritime law.

“We spend hundreds of thousands of pounds a year through the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), for its education programme, making sure athletes and federations understand what the roles, the rules, the obligations are.

“So, yes, I am disappointed in so far as every positive is not a good story. But in a way it does show that we are at least tackling this issue now and we are a federation who are not doing junk tests.

“We are not sitting there saying we have hundreds of thousands of meaningless tests. We are doing it in a very systemic and effective way. We will continue to that.”

World champions Christian Coleman and Salwa Eid Naser both missed Tokyo due to bans, as did 2016 Olympic hurdles champion Brianna Rollins-McNeal.

Ahead of the delayed Games, Coe even warned: “There is a greater chance of (cheats) being caught than probably any previous Games.”

Last night he added: “I want athletes to recognise that it really doesn’t matter where they reside, what systems they are in, whether they come from small, medium-sized, large, powerful federations.

“The philosophy is pretty simple, everybody will be treated exactly the same way. I think it is demonstrating that.”

Leading World athletics Coach Rana Reider to be investigated over sexual misconduct

One of the world’s leading track and field coaches is to be investigated by the US Center for SafeSport after multiple complaints of sexual misconduct were made against him, the Guardian can reveal.

Rana Reider has earned a glittering reputation in the sport after guiding several Olympic and world champions to glory, including the Tokyo 2020 Olympic 200m gold medallist Andre de Grasse and the world triple jump champion Christian Taylor.

The American also trains numerous other elite athletes, including Britain’s Adam Gemili and Daryll Neita, from his Florida-based Tumbleweed Track Club. However, the 51-year-old American’s behaviour off the track is to be scrutinised by the US Center for SafeSport organisation, a powerful and independent body that handles investigations and complaints into abuse and misconduct in Olympic sports.

The Guardian has also learned that the allegations against Reider have led to UK Athletics warning Gemili and Neita to cease contact with their renowned coach or their membership into the World Class Programme, including lottery funding, will be suspended. A similar message has been conveyed to other British athletes who were considering moving to the US to train under Reider.

Contacted by the Guardian on Tuesday, Reider denied knowledge of the SafeSport investigation and said he had not been told of UK Athletics’ instruction to Gemili and Neita. “You can call my lawyer because this is news to me,” he added. Reider’s lawyer, Ryan Stephens, said the allegations against his client were “unvetted” and “unproven”. “SafeSport hasn’t issued a notice of allegations to Rana,” he told the Guardian.

“The suspicious timing and motives attached to these unproven attacks on Rana’s reputation need to be fully investigated and vetted, and they haven’t been.” It is understood the warning to Gemili and Neita came about after UKA took advice from its Standards, Ethics and Rules Committee.

Both athletes were then sent a letter, which told them that UKA does not feel it is appropriate for them to continue to be associated with Reiner at the present time. In a statement, UKA told the Guardian: “As part of UK Athletics commitment to ensuring appropriate conduct is consistent across all areas without any exceptions, we completed additional due diligence where issues have been raised about the support personnel of UK athletes.

“Following information from the US Center for SafeSport that multiple complaints of sexual misconduct have been made against Coach Rana Reider and that an investigation in the US is imminent, UK Athletics has informed UK athletes currently being coached by him to cease all association until the conclusion of this process.” Reiner has guided Gemili for most of his career, during which time the popular 28-year-old athlete has broken 10 seconds for 100m and 20sec for 200m and inspired Britain’s relay team to world championship 4x100m relay gold and silver medals in 2017 and 2019.

Meanwhile, the 25-year-old Neita had a breakthrough year in 2021, running under 11sec for 100m for the first time, reaching the Olympic final and winning 4x100m relay bronze at Tokyo Olympics. On its website the US Center for SafeSport says that its mission is “dedicated solely to ending sexual, physical, and emotional abuse on behalf of athletes everywhere” – and that it is “authorised by Congress to help abuse prevention, education, and accountability take root in every sport, on every court”.

In July 2021 the centre issued an indefinite ban on the coach Alberto Salazar for sexual misconduct and emotional misconduct violations. Reider, who is regarded as a brilliant technical sprint coach, joined UKA after London 2012 after a long US collegiate career to initially oversee the sprints, sprint hurdles, horizontal jumps and relay programmes. He worked with a group of athletes that included Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, Dwain Chambers and Richard Kilty before leaving in 2014. After departing UKA he criticised some British athletes, saying: “Maybe they get comfortable. Maybe they get the funding. Maybe they’re big fish in a small pond and that’s the way they like it.”

SafeSport has been contacted for comment.

Great Britain could lose Tokyo Olympics silver medal after CJ Doping suspension

British sprinter CJ Ujah has been suspended after testing positive for a banned substance – and it could mean bad news for Team Great Britain.

Ujah, 27, was the lead-off runner in Team GB men’s 4x100m relay team who won silver at Tokyo 2020 Olympics earlier this month.

He has been provisionally suspended from competition, Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said.

According to the AIU, Ujah, who is the British champion over 100m, tested positive for ostarine and S-23, both of which are listed as prohibited substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The sprinter’s positive test could also mean bad news for his Team GB team-mates

World Athletics Anti-Doping rules state that where an athlete who has committed an ADRV ran as member of a relay team: “The relay team shall be automatically disqualified from the event in question, with all resulting consequences for the relay team, including the forfeiture of all titles, awards, medals, points and prize and appearance money.”

If proven, Team GB men’s entire 4x100m relay team, consisting of Ujah, Richard Kilty, Zharnel Hughes and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, would be stripped of their silver medals.

However, all hope is not lost for Ujah, who has yet to comment on the findings.

He can still request analysis of the B-sample – kept for storage while the A-sample is analysed.

Should that confirm an Adverse Analytic Finding, his case will be referred to the Anti-Doping Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The International Testing Agency (ITA) said: “The Cas ADD will consider the matter of the finding of an Anti-Doping Rule Violation [ADRV] and the disqualification of the men’s 4 x 100 relay results of the British team”.

Ujah, along with Kilty, Hughes and Mitchell-Blake, only narrowly missed out on winning gold in Tokyo.

The quartet were leading going into the final 100m but unable to hold off the Italian challenge as anchor runner Mitchell-Blake was headed on the line by Filippo Tortu.

Team GB missed out on gold by just a hundredth of a second.

CJ Ujah comes under fire from Usain Bolt for Commonwealth Games no-show

Usain Bolt criticised English sprinter CJ Ujah for opting not to compete at the Commonwealth Games.

Ujah chose to focus on the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, where he was disqualified for a false start in the semi-finals, and is instead training in the United States.

As the Diamond League champion over the 100metres, a crown he won in the aftermath of last year’s World Championships in London, he would have been among the favourites for gold. Ujah recorded a time of 10.15sec in Arizona five days ago, which would have been enough for silver at the Commonwealth Games.

Asked about Ujah’s no-show, Bolt said: “I feel that the Commonwealths is an important stepping stone. I would have done it. People make decisions, you don’t know why. For me, I was very keen on coming here as I look at this as a major championship.

“I want every gold medal in my cabinet. I’m not one of those persons that says the Commonwealths is not important. For me, I find it very important. If they don’t show up, that’s their loss.”

Ujah’s absence has meant that none of the British 4x100m relay team who won gold in London last summer is now competing here.

Adam Gemili pulled out of the 100m final with a thigh injury picked up in his semi-final, while Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake was a late injury withdrawal and Danny Talbot is also on the sidelines recovering from injury.

The England team’s options are depleted for the relay, the quartet of Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, Richard Kilty, Zharnel Hughes and 110m hurdler Andrew Pozzi now the only realistic options for tomorrow’s qualifying round. Despite his stance on the issue, Bolt raced at just one Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow four years ago, where he was part of the 4x100m relay team that won gold. He missed the 2006 Games in Melbourne with a hamstring injury and said the subsequent event in 2010 had been “bad timing”.

The athletics has been devoid of many of its global stars but the now retired sprinter insisted the Commonwealths remained a key event for the future.

He said: “A championship for me is a championship. I turned up prepared and ready to go. I see no reason 40 years down the line the Commonwealths won’t be here. I take them seriously.

source: standard.co.uk