Friday, 19th August 2022
<To guardian.ng
Search
Breaking News:

Okagbare gets career-ending 10-year ban

By Gowon Akpodonor
19 February 2022   |   3:33 am
There was the glowing smile Blessing Okagbare wore in the city of Samorin, Slovakia, on June 3, 2021, when she set a new meet record of 10.98 seconds to win the 100m event at the P-T-S Meeting...
Blessing Okagbare

(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. – 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 Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

It’s Unfortunate, Says AFN

There was the glowing smile Blessing Okagbare wore in the city of Samorin, Slovakia, on June 3, 2021, when she set a new meet record of 10.98 seconds to win the 100m event at the P-T-S Meeting, the first-ever by any woman in the Eastern European country.

And there came the weeping and distraught face yesterday, as the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) handed her a career-ending ten years ban over the use of banned drugs.

Okagbare, from being one of the most celebrated Nigerian track and field stars, to bagging a ten-year ban is one of the unpleasant moments in Nigerian sports history.

Her ban was announced in a statement issued, yesterday, by Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU). “The Disciplinary Tribunal has banned Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare for a total of 10 years,” AIU stated.

Okagbare was suspended on the eve of her semifinal in the 100m event at the Tokyo Olympics.

The AIU said then that it charged Okagbare after she tested positive for Human Growth Hormone and Recombinant Erythropoietin (EPO). The U.S.-based Nigerian athlete appealed against it.

An official close to World Athletics (WA), revealed to The Guardian yesterday that Okagbare may have been handed a lengthy ten-year ban because of her refusal to accept the outcome of AIU findings in Tokyo.

“In Tokyo, Okagbare had the option of accepting the result, which could have seen her serving less than three years ban, but she insisted that she was innocent and appealed against it. The AIU must have calculated four years ban for her testing positive for Human Growth Hormone, another four years for being guilty of Recombinant Erythropoietin (EPO), and two years for her failure to cooperate/stubbornness. Blessing has just thrown away everything she laboured for in athletics. She can longer have a say in Nigerian athletics, and she can’t come into the AFN board as Athletes Representative in the future. What a shameful way to end her career,” the official stated.

The President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Chief Tonobok Okowa, told The Guardian yesterday that he was speechless. “I can’t say anything for now until I meet with my board members.”

On his part, AFN Technical Director, Samuel Onikeku, described Okagbare’s ban as unfortunate.

Okagbare grabbed a silver medal in the long jump at the 2008 Olympics and has also won World Championship medals in the 200m and long jump.