• Okagbare devastated by doping rule violation charge
Following the recent doping scandals that have dogged Team Nigeria at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has announced a seven-man Medical and Anti-Doping Commission headed by Professor Ken Anugweje.
AFN President, Tonobock Okowa, made the announcement yesterday in Tokyo on the sidelines of the Games of the XXXII Olympiad.
The Federation said the announcement of the members of the new commission became necessary as the AFN is determined to ensure Nigeria is removed from the unwanted categorisation as one of World Athletics member federations deemed to have the highest doping risk and considered as a threat to the overall integrity of the sport.
“The commission has been charged with the responsibility of ensuring Nigeria is, within a reasonable period of time, removed from the list of seven countries World Athletics and the Athletics Integrity Unit have named to have the highest doping risk and considered as a threat to the overall integrity of athletics,” said Okowa.
“They are also to ensure appropriate anti-doping measures are in place in accordance with World Athletics anti-doping rules so that the federation can prevent a repeat of the disqualification of our athletes at global international competitions.”
The AFN also apologised to President Muhammadu Buhari, Youth and Sports Minister, Sunday Dare and all Nigerians for the unsavoury event, which led to the inability of 10 track and field athletes to compete at the ongoing Olympics.
“As a new board, we have to take responsibility for the inaction of our predecessors and assure Nigerians that appropriate measures will always be taken at all times and in compliance with relevant World Athletics competition and anti-doping rules to protect our athletes,” he said.
Others members of the commission are Doctors Paul Onyido, Femi Ayorinde, Effi Usen and Bukola Bojuwoye, as well as the technical director of the federation (yet to be appointed). Inwang Israel Mfon will serve as the commission’s secretary.
MEANWHILE, top Nigerian officials have revealed that sprinter Blessing Okagbare was devastated throughout Saturday following her provisional suspension by the Athletics Integrity Unit for a doping rule violation.
The AIU in the press release in the early hours of Saturday stated that the Nigerian 100/200m record holder was provisionally suspended with immediate effect after a sample collected from her tested positive for human Growth Hormone.
A top official of Team Nigeria told The Guardian yesterday on phone from Tokyo that Okagbare was totally devastated by the news.
“I was with Blessing, and she is totally devastated,” the official said.
Asked if Okagbare was not tested by Nigerian officials when she came for the national trials in Lagos in June, the official said, “Under the rules, result management is a process, which terminates after granting the accused a Fair Hearing. It is only then that I can make a statement.”
Growth Hormone is a non-specified substance on the 2021 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List and a provisional suspension is mandatory following an adverse analytical finding for such substance under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules.
The AIU stated yesterday that it collected the sample from Okagbare during an out-of-competition test on July 19 and revealed the WADA-accredited laboratory that analysed the sample notified the AIU of the adverse analytical finding at mid-day Central European Time on Friday July 30.
The statement further said that Okagbare was notified of the adverse analytical finding and of her provisional suspension Saturday morning in Tokyo.
The suspension stopped Okagbare from participating in the semifinals of the women’s 100m. The news of Okagbare’s provisional suspension has continued to generate mixed reactions from Nigerians. While some were sympathetic with her, others said it served her well because of her ‘arrogant’ nature.
One sports analyst, who spoke on a radio sports programme yesterday said, “I will never sympathise with Okagbare. She is arrogant in nature. She always abuses sports administrators and even her country on social media. Look at her case now. I hope other athletes will learn from her fall.”