Okagbare’s doping ban extension unfair – Ex-athlete Aliu

Blessing Okagbare

Former Nigerian 100m champion and 2003 All-Africa Games champion, Deji Aliu, has stated that the recent extra one-year ban handed to Blessing Okagbare by the Athletics Integrity Unit for additional doping violations to add to her existing 10-year suspension is unfair and laughable, The PUNCH reports.

Okagbare, a long jump silver medallist at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, was provisionally suspended from the delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021 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.

In 2022, she was handed a 10-year ban for “multiple breaches of anti-doping rules” by the disciplinary tribunal of the AIU decision contained in a statement made available to The PUNCH February 18.

As a result of Okagbare’s additional ban, Nigeria lost its potential qualification place in the women’s 4x100m relay at July’s World Championships in Oregon, a decision Olympic bronze medalist Aliu says is too harsh on the country.

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“There is nothing to say about it,” Aliu told The PUNCH.

“The ban is way too harsh and unfair. I’m concerned at the length and the way they are going about it by adding one more year to it.

“I don’t want to sound as if I’m in support of doping, but she has nothing to lose anymore. Look at what she has done in the past and let her bow out quietly, it’s really sad. It’s not something I want to talk about.”

Statistical Analyst, Olalekan Soetan, believes the 2008 Olympic long jump silver medallist needs help to navigate this turbulent period as the latest development could lead her to depression or worse.

“(Blessing) Okagbare seems depressed from numerous posts on her Facebook handle. Those who genuinely love her should get her the needed help to navigate this turbulent period,” Soetan wrote.

“Okagbare has been posting stuff on social media that shows she might be struggling with her mental health. And we should care about her wellbeing no matter how bad her situation is.”

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Okagbare was a medal contender in the women’s 100m in Tokyo last year and won her heat in 11.05secs.

But she was ruled out of the semi-finals after the AIU said she had tested positive for a human growth hormone following an out-of-competition test on July 19.

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