Sports

Nigeria: … .Nigerian Faces Fresh Four-Year Ban for Evading Test

Blessing Okagbare's travails seems an unending one as the 33-year-old sprinter may be charged by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for further anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs) following the revelations in the ongoing case between the Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI and Eric Lira.

On 12 January 2022, the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York issued a press release concerning the filing of criminal charges publicly against Lira.

Those charges relate to the distribution of prohibited substances to two athletes for the purpose of cheating at the 2020 Olympic Games held in Tokyo in the summer of 2021.

The FBI Complaint sets out highly incriminating text and voice messages by "Athlete 1' who the AIU believes is Okagbare with a contact named "Eric Lira Doctor" in 2020 and 2021.

The messages included: Okagbare asking Lira for vials or doses of EPO and hGH and querying the quantity of drugs she would need for herself and "Athlete 2" (beleived to be a Nigerian male sprinter).

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The messages also included Okagbare sending to Lira a list of drugs that she wanted, including hGH and EPO.

On 13 June 2021, Okagbare queried in a message sent to Lira whether she was safe to take a test following a particular dosage, and because she was not sure, she "just let them go so it will be a missed test."

Following this revelation, World Athletics, on 14 January 2022, sent a Notice of Investigation letter to Okagbare concerning the potential ADRVs of Evading sample collection (Rule 2.3) and Tampering (Rule 2.5)

The Notice, according to World Athletics was based on its assertion that Blessing Okagbare is "Athlete 1".

The AIU is currently investigating these matters albeit Okagbare in her defence claimed she did not evade any test.

"As I had earlier responded to you on this issue, I did (sic) was in my room on the 13th of June, 2021, and did not hear or see the DCO (Doping Control Officer). Though that I ensured that my phone was available in case there was a need to reach me on my mobile phone. I had no knowledge that the DCO was at my door on that day," claimed the double Commonwealth Games sprint champions.

"On the demand to provide copies of messages referred to in the unsealed Complaint against Lira, I did not have any such conversation or message with Lira at any time on or around 13 June, 2021 to the best of my knowledge and do not have it on my phone," Okagbare wrote in her defence.

Okagbare is liable to a further four year ban if she is found guilty of violating Rule 2.3 or Rule 2.5.

Artmotion S.Africa

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