Nigeria women’s 4×100 relay team has been disqualified from participating in next month’s World Athletics Championships in the United States of America over Blessing Okagbare’s ban.
Brett Clothier, Head of the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), disclosed this in a statement on Monday.
The Athletics Integrity Unit said banned Nigerian sprinter, Blessing Okagbare, has been found guilty of committing additional anti-doping rule violations, by evading sample collection, and tampering or attempted tampering with the doping control process.
According to Clothier, this is because Blessing Okagbare, who was part of the team that secured Nigeria’s qualification, was found to have committed anti-doping rule violations.
Clothier explained that six days after Okagbare evaded sample collection in June 2021, she competed in the 4x100m relay event at the Nigeria Olympic Trials, with her relay squad qualifying for this year’s World Championships.
While noting that all individual and relay results involving Okagbare, from June 13, 2021, are now disqualified, Clothier said, “Over the years, we have repeatedly seen how one person’s actions adversely affect team-mates who have trained hard and worked honestly for their results.
“In a relay team, if one member violates the anti-doping rules, everyone bears the brunt of results being expunged. They all pay the price. In this instance, Nigeria has lost an important qualification spot. Those are the rules and we will not compromise on integrity.”
Meanwhile, Okagbare has had her current 10-year ban from athletics extended by one year (now 11 years in total).
According to a copy of the document obtained by our correspondent, Okagbare is deemed to have admitted the anti-doping rule violations (under Rule 2.3 and Rule 2.5 of the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules) and to have accepted the consequences.
The 33-year-old Okagbare, who is also a sprinter, was expelled from the Tokyo Olympics last year 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.
The prohibited substances were Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and Recombinant Erythropoietin (EPO).
The decision came from charges the AIU brought against Okagbare on October 7, 2021.
On June 10, 2022, the Athletics Integrity Unit further charged Okagbare with Evading Sample Collection, and Tampering or Attempted Tampering with the Doping Control process.