Doping scandal stains Nigeria Olympics camp

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Blessing Okagbare. Photo: File
Blessing Okagbare. Photo: File

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Nigerian sprinter and 2008 Olympics long jump silver medallist Blessing Okagbare’s Tokyo Games ended abruptly yesterday after she was provisionally suspended following a positive test for human growth hormone, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said.

The 32-year-old, who has also won world championship medals in the 200m and long jump, and who is at her fourth Olympic Games, comfortably won her 100m heat in Tokyo on Friday with a time of 11.05 seconds, qualifying for yesterday’s semifinals.

She was also due to compete in the 200m and the 4x100m relay races.

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The AIU said she tested positive in an out-of-competition test on July 19, and “was notified of the adverse analytical finding and of her provisional suspension”.

This is the latest blow for Nigeria’s athletics team after 10 track and field athletes were ruled to be ineligible for the Games earlier in the week for failing to meet minimum testing requirements.

On the list of banned substances, human growth hormone reduces body fat, increases muscle mass and strength, and helps in recovery, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

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The Nigerian Olympic Committee declined to comment on the matter.

Okagbare’s silver medal from the Beijing Games came a result of her being upgraded in 2017 after the International Olympic Committee disqualified Russian athlete Tatyana Lebedeva due to a doping offence. The Nigerian had originally finished third in that long jump competition. – Reuters


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