Team Canada officially upgraded to silver in Tokyo 2020 men’s 4x100m relay

The news that has been long awaited is finally official: Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney, and Andre De Grasse are Olympic silver medallists. 

Following a multi-step process over the last nine months, the Canadian quartet was upgraded from what was initially a third-place finish in the men’s 4x100m relay at Tokyo 2020. Their time of 37.70 seconds was 0.20 slower than the gold medallists from Italy, who beat Great Britain by a mere one one-hundredth (0.01) of a second.  

Men's 4x100m relay team celebrates bronze at Tokyo 2020
Andre De Grasse, Brendon Rodney, Aaron Brown and Jerome Blake celebrate winning bronze in the 4x100m relay at Tokyo 2020 (Photo: Stephen Hosier/COC)

READ: Canadian 4x100m relay win bronze, vow to be faster in 2024

But six days after the final was run on August 6, 2021, the Athletics Integrity Unit announced a provisional suspension for British sprinter Chijindu “CJ” Ujah. His in-competition anti-doping test done after that race revealed that his sample contained two banned substances, Ostarine and S-23, which can be used to increase energy and enhance muscle growth.  After analysis of the B-sample confirmed the analysis of Ujah’s A-sample, the case was passed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in September.

On February 18, 2022, the CAS issued its determination that an Anti-Doping Rule Violation had occurred. Ujah’s results from the 100m and the 4x100m relay were disqualified, which also led to the disqualification of the entire British relay squad who were stripped of their second-place finish. 

A lot of male sprinters make baton exchanges in a relay race
Canadian Andre De Grasse receives the baton from Brendon Rodney in the men’s 4x100m final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Friday, August 06, 2021. Photo by Darren Calabrese/COC

READ: History of Team Canada Olympic medal upgrades

World Athletics subsequently adjusted the results of the event, ranking Canada in second place behind Italy and bumping China up from fourth to third. In April, the British Olympic Association was requested to return the Olympic silver medals.

The final step of the process was for the IOC Executive Board to approve the updated results, which included acknowledging the Canadian quartet as the silver medallists. That took place during the board’s mid-May meeting in Lausanne.

A plan to present the four Canadian sprinters with their silver medals still needs to be determined.

In early March, when it began to become apparent that Canada would be in line for the upgrade, Brown shared some of his thoughts on YouTube.

He noted that he and his teammates were content with the bronze medal because they had earned it and they had moved on to start thinking about their next goals.

“So, to retroactively get upgraded to a silver medal on our day off kinda feels weird. We didn’t go out there and run any faster, we didn’t do anything different on the track. It’s literally because of a disqualification, so that feels a little strange,” Brown said, noting this is a different circumstance than a disqualification related to a bad exchange or stepping on a line, which are usually sorted out quite quickly on the day.

“The other reason why I was good with my bronze is because I feel bad for the other runners. Those guys were out there working their butt off too and they deserve that medal just as much as we do,” Brown said about Ujah’s teammates Zharnel Hughes, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Richard Kitty. “To go from being that close to gold to now walking away with no medal at all, nah man, that’s tough. My heart goes out to them, I feel bad for them and that makes it hard for me to celebrate getting a silver medal, honestly.”

Aaron Brown runs with a baton in his hand
Canadian Aaron Brown competes in the men’s 4x100m final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Friday, August 06, 2021. Photo by Stephen Hosier/COC

Brown did point to one silver (pun intended) lining in his video.

“Now I have an Olympic bronze medal, I’ll have an Olympic silver, and all I need is an Olympic gold in Paris 2024 to complete the set.”

Following the upgrade, De Grasse’s career Olympic medal count is now one gold, two silver, and three bronze. Brown and Rodney each have one silver and one bronze, after having been members of the third-place relay squad at Rio 2016. Blake stood on the Olympic podium for the first time in Tokyo.

Team Canada’s medal count from Tokyo 2020 is now seven gold, seven silver and 10 bronze.