Blessing Okagbare, Nigerian Runner, Suspended Over Drug Test
The athletics doping control agency has temporarily suspended a Nigerian sprinter after a failed doping control, the first drug-related suspension of an athlete active at the Tokyo Games.
In one declaration, the athletics integrity unit, which manages the anti-doping program for the sport, said a sample taken from sprinter, Blessing Okagbare, in an out-of-competition test on July 19 tested positive for growth hormones. Okagbare, 32, won her opening race in the women’s 100 meters on Friday in 11.05 seconds and was due to make the semi-finals on Saturday.
Okagbare’s suspension was not the first testing issue for Nigerian track and field competitors at these Games.
On Thursday, the Athletics Integrity Unit declared 20 Olympic track and field athletes ineligible for competition because they failed to meet the requirements for out-of-competition testing leading up to the Olympics. Of the 20 athletes, 10 were from Nigeria.
The Nigeria Athletics Federation, the country’s sports governing body, issued a statement attributing the problem to administrative failure and not positive tests for banned substances. The athletes were declared ineligible for the competition because they failed to pass the required three out-of-competition tests, the organization said.
“AFN bears responsibility for any shortcomings that may have occurred during the process and reassures Nigerians that our performance will not be adversely affected,” the organization said.
In a separate statement, the country’s sports ministry also clarified that none of the 10 athletes in question had tested positive for a banned substance.
Chioma Onyekwere, a Nigerian discus thrower ranked No.16 in the world and scheduled for Saturday, was among those disqualified. She said she and her teammates affected by the decision learned the news Thursday evening from officials from the country’s Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Nigeria Athletics Federation.
“I think we were all shocked,” Onyekwere said. “Everyone was in disbelief that this could happen. “
On Friday, the 10 athletes who had been disqualified from the Games held a protest in Tokyo, where they walked through the Olympic Village with signs reading “All we wanted to do is compete” and “Why should we be in pain. because of someone else’s negligence?
“It’s a painful thing to be in your prime and not being able to compete,” said Onyekwere, 23, from her room in the Olympic Village as she watched her competition live on her computer. Already the Nigerian record holder for women’s disc, Onyekwere wanted to break the African record at the Games, she said.
Tokyo would have been the debut of the 10 athletes on the Olympic stage.
“It hurts,” said Chidi Okezie, who was scheduled to compete in the mixed 4×400-meter relay, in a post, adding a heartbroken emoji.
Now, because they are not competing, the athletes are due to leave Tokyo on Sunday.
On Thursday, ahead of the announcement of Okagbare’s suspension, the Youth and Sports Ministry released a statement saying 12 athletes from the country’s track team had been allowed to compete in the Games.
Global anti-doping organizations have long struggled to oversee consistent testing in many countries, a challenge made worse by the pandemic. In the months leading up to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, more than 1,900 athletes in 10 key sports – including track and field, weightlifting and cycling – were untested, a failure officials say. doping have promised not to repeat in the next Olympic cycle. .
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