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AFN to dope-test Hicks, criticism trails Okagbare’s ‘finger posture’ in Sapele

By Gowon Akpodonor
09 July 2016   |   2:43 am
The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) says it would only rectify the new national record set by US-based Arthon Hicks in the men’s 110m hurdles in Sapele, Delta State ...
Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor in the controversial posture at Sapele Stadium… on Thursday. Photo: MakingOfChampions.com

Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor in the controversial posture at Sapele Stadium… on Thursday. Photo: MakingOfChampions.com

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) says it would only rectify the new national record set by US-based Arthon Hicks in the men’s 110m hurdles in Sapele, Delta State, if only the athlete comes out clean in a dope test conducted on him.

On Thursday, Hicks erased a 13-year-old hurdles record at the Sapele Stadium with a time of 13.27 seconds at the All Nigeria Open Championship. His winning time supersedes Williams Erese’s previous record of 13.42seconds, which was set in 2003 during a competition in the United States.

Speaking with The Guardian in separate interviews yesterday, AFN President, Chief Solomon Ogba and Technical Director, Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama expressed joy over Arthon Hicks’ new hurdles record, but stated that the federation would rectify it immediately after his dope result comes out.

“But that does not stop us from entering his name for the Rio Olympics Games,” Nesiama said.

Some athletics critics say there is nothing to celebrate about Arthon Hicks’s new record, alleging that the US-based hurdler is already ‘too old.’

However, AFN President, Ogba, says he is satisfied with Hicks performance irrespective of the picture being painted by some people.

He said: “The question I want those suggesting that Hicks is too old to run for Nigeria should answer is if he (Hicks) actually set a new national record or not? That record had been there since 2003 and the young athletes couldn’t break it. This is not the era of hand timing. It was the results that came out from the electronic timing device that was used. So, why will somebody suggest that Hicks is too old instead of appreciating him? But the AFN will do the normal thing by doping him before we rectify the new record.”

Meanwhile, a posture by Commonwealth sprint queen, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor at the Sapele Stadium, pointing up her middle finger before the 100m race on Thursday is drawing criticism from across the land.

“If it was in Europe or US, Okagbare would have a hell of a time with the media, fans, sponsors and administrators over that picture,” one sports journalist pointed out yesterday.

Another top sports journalist responded saying: “That sign from Nigeria’ s top athlete should raise concern, debated and dealt with accordingly. I’m sure she was sending a message to the sports authorities who have supervised over Nigeria’s worst preparation ever for the Olympics.”

The athlete (Okagbare) was quoted to have explained yesterday that she did not mean any harm with the picture. “My finger was for her, (the photographer). “The athletics federation is aware and they’ve being talking to me to be calm. Someone said I was doing it to the federal government. Am I that crazy?”, Okagbare said.