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Only Naser knows the truth on doping allegation, says Ogunkoya

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Atlanta ’96 Olympics medalist, Falilat Ogunkoya, says the true story concerning the drug issues hanging around the neck of Nigerian-born Bahrain World 400m champion, Salwa Eid Naser, can only be revealed by the athlete.

Naser, formerly Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu, who was born in Nigeria, switched allegiance to Bahrain in 2014, and became the first Asian woman to be world champion in the 400m at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championship in Doha, running 48.14 seconds – the third-fastest time in history.

The athlete was provisionally suspended after she missed four anti-doping tests rather than the three she claimed, according to the Athletics Integrity Unit.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Ogunkoya, who won a bronze medal in the 400m at Atlanta ’96 Olympics, where she ran a personal best and African record of 49.10 seconds, which is currently the 12th fastest of all time, said only Naser could say the truth about the anti-doping tests issues raised by Athletics Integrity Unit.

She said it was too early to start condemning the athlete or World Athletics over the issue, adding that the truth would come out in due course.

“First of all, Naser is not a banned athlete yet. We have to wait for AIU,” Ogunkoya said. “Again, she (Naser) is the only one who knows the true story.”

According to the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the World 400m champion Naser missed four anti-doping tests rather than the three she claimed. But the AIU says there was a fourth whereabouts failure in January 2020.

However, the Bahraini, 22, claimed in an Instagram live video: “I only missed three drug tests” before the World Championships, which is “normal”.

In a statement, the AIU said: “The investigation into Ms. Naser’s three whereabouts failures in 2019 was ongoing at the time of the Doha World Championships and she was not provisionally suspended at that time.

“Following conclusion of the investigation and a fourth whereabouts failure in January 2020, a notice of charge was issued and Ms. Naser subject to an immediate provisional suspension.

“The disciplinary process is ongoing.”

Naser, who hails from Anambra State said: “I’ve never been a cheat. I will never be. I only missed three drug tests, which is normal. It happens.

“Hopefully, it’ll get resolved because I don’t really like the image. It’s going to be fine. It’s very hard to have this little stain on my name.”


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