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Nigerians wait for Okagbare’s appeal on 10-year ban

By Gowon Akpodonor
10 March 2022   |   5:37 pm
Some athletics-loving Nigerians, who are sympathetic to U.S.-based Nigerian sprinter, Blessing Okagbare, following her 10 years ban for drug related offences, are anxiously waiting ...

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 30, 2021 Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare reacts after winning her race in the women’s 100m heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 30, 2021. – Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare has been barred from the Olympics after failing a drug test, the first doping case of the Tokyo games track and field competition, officials said on July 31, 2021. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

• ‘Why Sports Ministry, AFN can’t act’

Some athletics-loving Nigerians, who are sympathetic to U.S.-based Nigerian sprinter, Blessing Okagbare, following her 10 years ban for drug related offences, are anxiously waiting for the outcome of her appeal against the sanction.

Okagbare was handed a career-ending 10-year ban by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for doping violations on February 18, 2022. She was banned for ‘five years for the presence and use of multiple prohibited substances and five years for her refusal to co-operate with the AIU’s investigation into her case.’

But the athlete won’t go down without a fight, as she claimed soon after the AIU pronouncement that she would appeal against it (the ban).

Taking to Twitter, Okagbare, a silver medalist at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in the long jump event, acknowledged that she has seen the statement by AIU and her lawyers are working on it.

“My attention has been drawn to the statement issued by the AIU regarding its disciplinary panel decision. My lawyers are currently studying it for our next line of action, which we will inform you soon,” she tweeted

An official close to the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) told The Guardian yesterday that some concerned Nigerians were making series of enquiries on daily basis on the chances of Okagbare getting the ban reduced from 10 years.

“Many Nigerians are in sympathy with Blessing over the ban issue, and they are anxiously looking forward to the outcome of her appeal. To them, the lengthy 10 years ban was a deliberate punishment,” the official said.

Asked why the AFN or the Ministry of Youths and Sports Development have been silent on the Okagbare case, the official said: “There is what we call result management on issues concerning doping. The AFN or Sports Ministry can only say something after the process has ended. Okagbare said she would appeal the case, and she has 30 days to do so. What it means is that the process has not ended. We have to wait till it is concluded.”

Okagbare was expelled from the Tokyo Olympics, a day before the women’s 100m semi-finals after testing positive for human growth hormone at an out-of-competition test in Slovakia on July 19, 2021.

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