The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) announced on Friday that Nigerian sprinter, Blessing Okagbare has been handed a 10-year ban for breaching multiple anti-doping rules.
Blessing Okagbare Gets 10-Year Ban
KanyiDaily recalls that last year, Blessing Okagbare was provisionally suspended from competing at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics after she tested positive for human growth hormone.
The AIU had alleged that the 32-year-old Nigerian athlete tested positive for the prohibited substance in an out-of-competition drug examination she did in Slovakia on July 19 – four days before the Olympics opened.
In a statement issued on Friday, February 18, the AIU said Okagbare has now been prohibited from all track and field events organized by World Athletics for the next decade.
According to the statement, the Nigerian athlete got a five-year ban for the presence and use of multiple prohibited substances and another five years for her refusal to cooperate with the body’s investigation of her case.
The statement reads, “The Disciplinary Tribunal has banned Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare for a total of 10 years, five years for the presence and use of multiple prohibited substances and five years for her refusal to co-operate with the AIU’s investigation into her case.
“The sole arbitrator adjudicating the case concluded that the athlete’s use of multiple prohibited substances as part of an organised doping regimen in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympic Games was egregious conduct that amounted to aggravating circumstances under the Rules thereby warranting an additional period of ineligibility on top of the standard four-year sanction.
“The sole arbitrator also recognised the AIU’s right to carry out investigations, including the imaging of electronic devices, and to impose sanctions when an athlete refuses to co-operate with an investigation and thereby frustrates the AIU’s ability to fulfil its mandate to protect the integrity of the sport of athletics.
“In this instance, the sole arbitrator concluded that the athlete’s refusal to cooperate had denied the AIU the opportunity to discover evidence of possible further rule violations by her as well possible violations of the rules by others, for which he imposed an additional sanction of five years.”
The statement added that the athlete has the right to appeal against the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CaS) within 30 days.
KanyiDaily recalls that the AIU had also banned 10 Nigerian athletes from Tokyo 2020 Olympics as they were not tested rigorously enough in the run-up to the Games.
The AIU said the Nigerian athletes were disqualified because they failed to meet the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15 of the Anti-Doping Rules for ‘Category A’ federations.
The disqualified Nigerian athletes staged a protest in Tokyo to express frustration at seeing their dreams of competing at the ongoing Olympics dashed by negligence from the Ministry of Sports and the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).