AFN Shocked Over Okagbare’s Suspension From Tokyo Olympics

A combination of file photos of Blessing Okagbare and the AFN logo.

 

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.

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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.

Tokyo Olympics: AFN Admits ‘Lapses’ After Disqualification Of 10 Athletes

File Photo Of AFN

 

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) on Thursday admitted “lapses” on its part over the disqualification of 10 athletes from Tokyo Olympics for not complying with out-of-competition drug testing requirements.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) had announced the disqualification of the Nigerian athletes on Wednesday.

The AFN, which has been plagued by power tussle for several years, said they would take responsibility for the lapses that led to the disqualification.

“The AFN bears responsibility for any lapses that may have occurred during the process and reassures Nigerians that our performances (at Tokyo Olympics) will not be negatively impacted,” it said in a statement.

“All our athletes resident in Nigeria and who qualified for the Olympic Games completed the three mandatory tests,” it said.

“Most of our top athletes resident in the USA also completed their tests,” the AFN said.

“However, a few athletes in the American collegiate system were tested, but those tests were deemed not to have complied with WADA (world anti-doping agency) sample collection and analysis standards.”

The AFN said it had appointed a top official to head its medical and anti-doping commission.

Star sprinter Blessing Okagbare, who will compete in the 100m and 200m in Tokyo, was critical of the country’s sports officials.

“The sport system in Nigeria is so flawed and we athletes are always at the receiving end of the damages,” she said.

“They were busy fighting over power, exercising their pride over Puma contract/kits forgetting their major responsibility – the athletes.

“It’s sad that this cycle keeps repeating itself and some people will come out to say I am arrogant for speaking my truth. It’s my career,” she added.

Sports Ministry Nullifies Similaye Pepple’s Appointment As AFN DG

A file photo of the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare.

 

The Federal Government has nullified the appointment of Mr Similaye Pepple as the Director-General of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).

In a statement on Tuesday by its spokesperson, A.B. Lere-Adams, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development said it considered the appointment as illegal.

“The Ministry in its capacity of supervisory role over the National Sports Federations under its purview, set up a Ministerial Panel of Inquiry on AFN issues to investigate certain misdeeds and proffer solutions going forward.

“To this end, acting upon the recommendations of the panel, the Ministry hereby makes it categorically clear that the statue of the AFN and the National Sports Federation Code of Governance 2017, does not provide for the position of Director-General in any of the enabling documents,” the statement said.

It added, “Against this backdrop, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (FMYSD) has cancelled and nullified the alleged appointment of Mr Similaye Young Pepple as Director-General of AFN, more so, not being supported by any extant laws or regulations whatsoever.”

The ministry explained that the decision was part of the government’s effort to sanitise and restore order into the myriad of issues besetting the smooth operation of the AFN.

According to the ministry, the Code of Governance supports the Secretary-General, who has already been duly appointed, and not the office of a Director-General.

It asked the AFN, stakeholders in the sports sector, and Nigerians to note the development.

Ex-AFN Secretary-General, Akawu Arrested Over Alleged $130,000 Fraud

ICPC Partners OAGF, BPP To Prevent Corruption In MDAs

 

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says it has arrested the former Secretary-General of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Mr Amaechi Akawu.

Spokesperson for the commission, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, disclosed this in a statement forwarded to Channels Television on Monday.

Akawu was arrested over allegations of misappropriation of $130, 000 belonging to the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).

“Akawu was detained on Tuesday 22nd October 2019 following his arrest and was subsequently released on administrative bail the next day, to enable him submit some vital documents that were requested by investigators handling the case.

“ICPC had received a petition alleging that he had failed to account for $130,000 mistakenly paid into the account of AFN in 2017 by IAAF,” the statement said.

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According to Okoduwa, IAAF had in a letter to AFN in March 2017 volunteered to grant $20,000 to the Federation towards the successful hosting of the CAA Grand Prix Competition in Delta State, popularly known as 2017 Warri Relay Competition.

The international body for athletics, however, while fulfilling the pledge mistakenly paid $150,000 to AFN in May 2017, a sum which was in excess of the $20, 000 grants it had earlier pledged.

IAAF was said to have written to the Nigerian body two months after the payment admitting the mistake and promptly requested that the $130, 000 excess be returned forthwith.

ICPC noted that AFN has yet to refund the excess fund with Akawu as the secretary-general, claiming that the entire $130, 000 was spent on hosting the competition that held in July 2017.

“Details available to the commission have revealed several transactions on the account which were originated by the (former) secretary-general moments after the payment of the money.

“ICPC found out that Akawu, acting without AFN Board, got several approvals for the release of the money through a series of letters to the then Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung,” the statement added.

The anti-graft agency disclosed that Akawu requested and got approval for the release of N30.4 million, N4.9 million and $20, 000 on different occasions but all in July 2017 as expenses for the competition.

It also accused the former secretary-general of requesting N9.5 million in the same period, but N5 million was approved by the then permanent secretary at the ministry.

The commission said Akawu has yet to furnish it with the evidence of the expenditures.

He was said to have informed investigators that he had submitted all the documents relating to how the $130, 000 was spent by AFN to the registry in the office of the minister.

IAAF Clears Edosie, Egwin To Compete For Nigeria

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has cleared middle distance runner Edosie Ibadin and quarter-miler Emerald Egwin to switch allegiance from their country of birth, the USA to their parents’ country, Nigeria.

The duo had been registered by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria for the ongoing world championships in London but the IAAF rejected their registration and asked for further proofs that they are bonafide Nigerians.

The switch was finalised when the athletes presented their parents’ birth certificate.

With the clearance, Edo State born Edosie will be in action on Saturday, August 5, in the men’s 800m while Egwin will have to wait to compete when the women’s 4x400m relay team take to the track at the Olympic Stadium.

The inclusion of the duo brings to 20 the number of athletes Nigeria has registered for the competition.

Meanwhile, quarter-miler Yinka Ajayi is expected to join the team on Saturday, August 5th after securing her visa from the British embassy in Nigeria while Abike Egbeniyi who will be competing in the women’s 4x400m relay will be hoping to receive hers on Monday.

Okagbare, Okoro Exempted From All Nigeria Athletics Championship

okagbareThe Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has granted the request of Blessing Okagbare and Chinwe Okoro to be exempted from the ongoing All Nigeria Athletics Championships at the Warri City Stadium.

The two-day championship serves as trial for the Beijing 2015 IAAF Athletics Championship and Brazzaville 2015 All Africa Games.

Okagbare’s medical and sports science team had pleaded with the federation to exempt the athlete from the national trials, to enable her treat a knee injury and abdominal problem.

Okoro had also written to be excluded for the period of the trials because it coincided with her Master’s Degree examination.

LONDON OLYMPICS: Nigeria is out of men’s 4x400m relay

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on Tuesday confirmed that Nigeria’s 4x400m men’s relay team will not compete at the London Olympics.

This is contrary to the statement by the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) on Monday which listed the team among the country’s contingent to the Games.

The Nigerian 4x400m relay team is made up of Saul Weigopwa, Abiola Onokoya, Isah Salihu, Tobi Ogunmola, Segun Ogunkole and Godday James.

The team ran 3:02.39 to win the gold medal at the just concluded 18th African Athletics Championships on Sunday in Porto Novo, and they were wrongly informed that the team made the cut for the Olympics.

However, the IAAF on Tuesday released the list of 16 teams that have qualified to participate in the event in London and Nigeria was not included in the list.

According to the IAAF report, “the qualification period for the men’s and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m relays at the Games of the XXX Olympiad, London 2012 ended on Monday 2 July. The IAAF is pleased to confirm the following 16 teams, per each of the four relays, which have qualified to compete, are as follows…”

Until the victory in Port Novo, Nigeria was ranked out of the top 20 nations but moved to the 18th on the list following last Sunday’s personal season’s best performance in Benin republic.

South Africa and Kenya will be flying the continent’s flag in the London games which will kick-off in a few weeks.

Meanwhile Nigeria still stands a chance to make the games if two of the qualified countries drop out of the event at the quadrennial Games on their own volition.

Nigeria will thus not be competing in the men’s 4x400m relay at the Olympics.

Victory in past relays have accounted for some of the nine medals Nigeria has won in the athletics event of the Olympic Games.