The Athletics Integrity Unit has slammed a ban on ten years on Nigerian leading female sprinter, Blessing Okagbare.

A statement released by the AIU stated that Okagbare got a five year ban for the use of prohibited substances and another five years for refusing to cooperate with the AIU’s investigation.

“The Disciplinary Tribunal has banned Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare for a total of 10 years.
“Five years for the presence and use of multiple prohibited substances and five years for her refusal to co-operate with the AIU’s investigation into her case.” The statement read.

The Head of AIU, Brett Clothier, told journalists that the ban was a welcome development which would send a strong message to chests:

“We welcome the decision of the Disciplinary Tribunal; a ban of 10 years is a strong message against intentional and co-ordinated attempts to cheat at the very highest level of our sport,”

Okagbare was expelled from the Tokyo Olympic last year and prevented participation in the 100 meters semi final as she tested positive for human growth hormone at an out-of-competition test in Slovakia on July 19, 2021.

The Times of India reported that “US justice department officials in New York said Eric Lira, a 41-year-old “naturopathic” therapist based in El Paso, supplied drugs to two athletes for the “purpose of corrupting” the Tokyo Games.

It was stated that efforts have commenced to ensure criminal prosecution against the lady who supplied the performance enhancement drugs to the athlete. Okagbare is listed under Athlete 1 in the criminal complaint.

“On 12 January 2022, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced the unsealing of a first criminal charge under the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act against Eric Lira, a US based “naturopathic” therapist, who is alleged to have supplied performance enhancing drugs to athletes before the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“The indictment included encrypted correspondence from Okagbare — identified only as “Athlete 1” — and Lira where the Nigerian testifies to the effectiveness of the substances following Olympic trials in Lagos on June 17, where she clocked a wind-assisted 10.63sec in the 100m.”

Okagbare has to appeal against the Disciplinary Tribunal’s decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport within 30 days.


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