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Birmingham 2022: Nigeria may lose 4×400m gold medal over doping

By Oviri Kelvin, Sports Editor

Nigeria was on the world map lately in the field of athletics where our golden girl Tobi Amusan shocked the world by obliterating the 100m hurdles record at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, United States.

The scintillating performances never ended in Oregon as Nigerian athletes left for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham to win 12 gold, 9 silver and 14 bronze medals to finish 7th on the medal chart.

Among the gold medals won was that of the 4×400m relay that the quartet of Tobi Amusan, Rosemary Chukwuma, Grace Nwokocha and Favour Ofili won in Birmingham.

However, something unfortunate is lurking around to threaten the pedigree and integrity in athletics the nation is on course to rebuilding after Blessing Okagbare’s doping case.

According to reports, one of the quartet is alleged to have been involved in doping following a letter sent by the World Anti-Doping Agency to the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN)

What this means for Nigeria, despite the athlete will be penalised and possibly banned for some years from Athletics, is that the nation will be stripped of the gold medal including all entitlements from the 4×400m relay.

Confirming the development, AFN President Tonobok Okowa said the letter got to the federation on Friday which was a shocker

“The letter from the World Anti-Doping Agency just reached the federation today [Friday] and we are shocked to hear this for the first time,” the AFN President said.

“We risk being stripped of the 4x100m Commonwealth Games gold we won in Birmingham,” Okowa added.

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Okowa said this was not a welcome development, adding that the federation was going to investigate the issue further.

He added, “But we will carry out our investigation. Although an athlete is responsible for anything that has to do with doping, this is not a good development for us.”

The AFN President, however, failed to oblige a request to reveal the name of the athlete whose B sample is still under the scrutiny of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“No, I can’t disclose the identity of the athlete now because we need to confirm exactly what happened and conclude on our findings before making a public statement,” Okowa stated.

Meanwhile, Seigha Porbeni, head coach of AFN, defended Okowa’s position not to reveal the identity of the accused athlete stating that the issue is under investigation.

Furthermore, he stressed that the athlete has not been pronounced guilty as what the Anti-Doping Agency did is a procedural step so that all parties involved will be prepared for their defence.

“The matter is still being investigated and it’s not yet confirmed. What we got is a notification letter, so, that everybody concerned will be ready for their defence,” Porbeni said.

Recall that the effect of Blessing Okagbare’s unfortunate incident has hardly left the minds of Nigerians and the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, who before the athletes left for Oregon and Birmingham, ensured they were properly tested.

Consequent to Blessing Okagbare’s issue, Nigeria has been under the surveillance of the World Anti-Doping Agency in recent times over doping.

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