Following a further ban on Nigerian sprinter, Blessing Okagbare, the Athletic Integrity Unit (AIU) have disqualified Nigeria’s 4x100m relay team from participating in next month’s World Athletics Championship in Oregon.
AIU noted that Okagbare while evading the anti-doping test last year, participated with her team in the National Olympic trials, the event that qualified the team to partake in next month’s world event in Oregon 2022.
In a statement by the independent body created by the World Athletics to manage athletics’ integrity issues, the additional one-year ban meted on Okagbare for trying to evade doping sample collections and temper with the doping control process necessitated the decision to ban Nigeria from the 4×100m event.
AIU added that any event Okagbare was involved in to qualifier Nigeria for an Athletic tourney, the country stands disqualified.
The statement reads in part: “The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has announced that banned Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare has been found to have committed additional anti-doping rule violations – specifically evading sample collection, and tampering or attempted tampering with the doping control process.
“While Okagbare has had her current 10-year ban from athletics extended by one year (now 11 years in total), another significant consequence of this decision against her is that Nigeria has lost its potential qualification place for the women’s 4x100m relay at the next month’s World Athletics Championships Oregon 22.
“This is because six days after Okagbare evaded sample collection (13 June 2021), she competed in the 4x100m relay event at the Nigeria Olympic Trials, with her relay squad qualifying for this year’s World Championships. All individual and relay results involving Okagbare, from 13 June 2021, are now disqualified under the rules,” AIU stated.
According to Brett Clothier, AIU Head, the integrity organ has over time experienced a situation of this nature where athletes, who have trained so hard for an event are disqualified following the excesses from a teammate.
Clothier explained that Okagbare’s ordeal has affected Nigeria from an important qualifying spot, and stressed that in a relay team, once a teammate fails a doping test, everybody bears the consequences.
He said, “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.
“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,” Clothier reiterated.
Previously, Okagbare was banned for 10 years by the Disciplinary Committee on February 14, 2022, on two counts which border on the ‘presence and use of multiple prohibited substances, and for her refusal to co-operate with the AIU’s investigation into her case’.
In her results, the Olympian tested positive to the prohibited human growth hormone (hGH) and recombinant erythropoietin (EPO).
However, the AIU after concluding a further investigation into the behaviour of Okagbare, who attempted to temper with the doping control process while also evading sample collection, handed her an extra one-year ban to increase the total ban to eleven years.