World Athletics yesterday threw more light why Nigeria’s 4x100m women relay team was disqualified from the forthcoming World Athletics Championships in Oregon, United States.
The body’s Athletics Integrity Unit(AIU) said in a statement yesterday that the decision was taken after banned Blessing Okagbare reportedly violated additional anti-doping rules by evading sample collection (13 June 2021), six days before she competed in the 4x100m relay event at the Nigeria Olympic Trials in Lagos with her relay squad qualifying for this year’s World Championships.
“Over the years, we have repeatedly seen how one person’s actions adversely affect teammates who have trained hard and worked honestly for their results,” noted the head of the AIU, Brett Clothier.
“In a relay team, if one member violates the anti-doping rules, everyone bears the brunt of results being expunged. They all pay the price. In this instance, Nigeria has lost an important qualification spot. Those are the rules and we will not compromise on integrity,” he added.
It would be recalled that the Disciplinary Tribunal on February 14, 2022, banned Okagbare for 10 years for the presence and use of multiple prohibited substances including human growth hormone (hGH) and recombinant erythropoietin (EPO) coupled with her refusal to co-operate with the AIU’s investigators.
Subsequently, the AIU on 10 June 2022, further charged Okagbare with evading sample collection, and tampering or attempted tampering with the doping control process .
These charges related to the circumstances of the athlete’s whereabouts failure on 13 June 2021 as well as information in a criminal charge, brought against US-based “naturopathic” therapist Eric Lira by the United States Department of Justice under the Rodchenkov Act.
Failure to respond to the charges by the extended deadline of 21 June 2022,Okagbare was deemed to have admitted the anti-doping rule violations and punishment based World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules.