The Canadian men’s 4×100 meters relay team from the Tokyo Olympics has officially been upgraded to silver nine months after winning bronze.
The International Olympic Committee approved the upgrade at Thursday’s executive board meeting.
Jerome Blake of Burnaby, BC, Aaron Brown and Brendon Rodney of Toronto, and six-time Olympic medalist Andre De Grasse of Markham, Ont. clocked 37.70 seconds in Tokyo to finish behind Italy and Great Britain. Britain’s result was overturned in February after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled against first runner Chijindu Ujah for a doping violation.
“Being retroactively upgraded to a silver medal on our day off is kind of weird,” Brown said in a YouTube video in March. “We didn’t go out there and race faster, we didn’t do anything different on the track. It’s literally because of a disqualification, so that’s a bit strange.”
Brown said he was happy with his bronze; he was friendly with the other members of the British relay team.
“These guys were working hard too and they deserve this medal just as much as we do,” Brown said. “To go from being this close to gold (Italy edged the Brits by 0.01 seconds) to now coming away without a medal at all, no man, it’s tough. My heart goes out to them, I feel bad for them and it makes it hard for me to celebrate getting a silver medal, honestly.”
WATCH | The men’s relay team climbs on the Olympic podium:
‘We are pleased’
Canadian Olympic Committee President Tricia Smith called Canadian sprinters “incredible ambassadors” for Canada and the Olympic Movement.
“We are thrilled to have them promoted to the silver medal they won,” she said in a statement. “While it is disappointing to still see cases of doping robbing athletes of their moment at the Games, it reinforces the importance of integrity and safeguarding clean sport.”
Athletics Canada said it remains to be determined how athletes will receive their silver medals.
The Canadian team’s medal count at Tokyo 2020 is now seven gold, seven silver and 10 bronze.
“Now I have an Olympic bronze medal, I will have an Olympic silver medal, and all I need is an Olympic gold medal in Paris 2024 to complete the set,” Brown said.
The process of upgrading medals after a doping violation can be laborious.
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The Canadian Dylan Armstrong finished fourth in the shot put in 2008 in Beijing and therefore never had the chance to climb on the Olympic podium. Years later, he was promoted to bronze after Andrei Mikhnevich of Belarus was disqualified for doping. Armstrong finally received his medal – Canada’s first in the shot put at the Olympics – at a ceremony in his hometown of Kamloops, British Columbia, in 2015, seven years after the actual competition.
Last November, Canadian Derek Drouin saw his medal at the London Olympics go to silver due to a doping disqualification, nine years after winning bronze at those Games.
Canada has been on the medal podium in the relay at back-to-back Olympic Games. Brown, De Grasse and Rodney were members of the bronze-medal team at Rio 2016. De Grasse, who has six Olympic medals, became Canada’s most decorated male Olympian in Tokyo. Short track speed skater Charles Hamelin matched that mark with his gold medal at the Beijing Games in February.
Swimmer Penny Oleksiak, with seven Olympic medals (one gold, two silver and four bronze), is Canada’s overall leader.