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Tokyo 2020: Bad news for team Nigeria as Blessing Okagbare gets provisional suspension

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THE Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has provisionally suspended Blessing Okagbare from the on-going Olympic Games taking place in Tokyo, Japan after a sample collected from the sprinter tested positive for Human Growth Hormone.

In a statement released on Saturday, the AIU said the suspension is with immediate effect. Okagbare was scheduled to participate in the semi-finals of the women’s 100m later this evening.

“The AIU collected the sample from Ms. Okagbare during an out-of-competition test on 19 July. The WADA-accredited laboratory that analysed the sample notified the AIU of the adverse analytical finding at mid-day Central European Time yesterday, Friday 30 July,” the statement read.

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Growth Hormone is a non-specified substance on the 2021 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List and a provisional suspension is mandatory following an adverse analytical finding for such substance under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules,” the statement read.

A Provisional Suspension is when an Athlete or other Person is suspended temporarily from participating in any competition or activity in athletics prior to a final decision at a hearing conducted under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules or the Integrity Code of Conduct.

Events unfolded this week within the Nigeria team in Tokyo speaks to systemic issues plaguing the country’s sports sector.

On Wednesday, 10 Nigerian athletes were disqualified from the games over failure to meet the minimum anti-doping testing requirements and those affected staged a protest on Friday, calling attention to the poor treatment of athletes by Nigerian sports officials, prompting the Minister of Youths and Sports Development Sunday Dare to take swift steps to salvage the situation.

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Suspended Okagbare on Thursday accused Nigerian sports officials of negligence to duty owing to their lack of genuine interest and understanding of the profession.

“The sport system in Nigeria is so flawed and our athletes are always at the receiving end of the damages…They were busy fighting over power, exercising their pride over puma contracts/kit, forgetting their major responsibility ‘THE ATHLETES’,” she tweeted.

Her suspension is the latest blow for Team Nigeria that is now down by 11 out of 23 athletes, 10 of which are women and has many negative consequences for the advancement of female athletes and attainment of Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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