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