The Athletics Federation of Nigeria says it received with great shock the press release by the Athletics Integrity Unit, suspending Blessing Okagbare from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics over a doping rule violation.
In a statement after AIU made the disclosure, the Federation said it was in the process of obtaining the relevant details of the announcement after which it would issue a full reaction.
AIU is an independent body created by World Athletics to manages all integrity issues – both doping and non-doping.
It noted that the Nigerian 100/200m record holder has been provisionally suspended with immediate effect after a sample collected from the 32-year-old tested positive for Human Growth Hormone.
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.
AIU explained that it collected the sample from Okagbare during an out-of-competition test on July 19, saying the WADA-accredited laboratory that analysed the sample notified AIU of the adverse analytical finding at mid-day Central European Time on Friday.
The athlete was notified of the adverse analytical finding and of her provisional suspension on Saturday morning in Tokyo.
She was scheduled to participate in the semi-finals of the women’s 100m scheduled for Saturday evening at the ongoing Olympic Games.
Okagbare’s suspension followed the disqualification of 10 other Nigerian athletes declared ineligible to compete at the games by AIU.
Those affected are Ruth Usoro, Favour Ofili, Annette Echikunwoke, Chioma Onyekwere, Glory Patrick, Chidi Okezie, Tima Godbless, Rosemary Chukwuma, Yinka Ajayi, and Knowledge Omovoh.
AIU said that the affected Nigerians were disqualified along with eight athletes from other countries while two others were replaced prior to the submission of their entries to World Athletics.
It explained that the affected athletes, who represented some ‘Category A’ Federations, were disqualified from the final entries for the Olympics for failing to meet the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15 of the Anti-Doping Rules.
AIU listed the seven identified ‘Category A’ National Federations to include Nigeria, Belarus, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and Ukraine.
Nigeria was listed in ‘Category A’ at the start of 2020 after a continued period of weak domestic testing levels.