Beijing 2015: Nigerian athletes are drug-free, says AFN

Allyson Felix (left), Blessing Okagbare and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce during the final of the London Olympics’ 100 metres race. PHOTO: AFP.

Allyson Felix (left), Blessing Okagbare and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce during the final of the London Olympics’ 100 metres race. PHOTO: AFP.

With the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) searchlight on drug cheats ahead of the Beijing 2015 World Championships, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has revealed that all its 17 athletes for the competition are ‘clean.’

The 2015 IAAF World Championship will begin in the Chinese capital, Beijing, on August 22. Team Nigeria’s contingent, made up of 14 female and three male athletes, will depart Abuja next Tuesday.

The World Athletics governing body has been under serious attack in the last few weeks by critics, who feel the leadership was ‘covering up’ for athletes using drugs to achieve success during competitions.

However, the IAAF seems to have woken up from its slumber, as it initiated disciplinary action against 28 athletes after they retested samples from Helsinki 2005 and Osaka 2007 World Championships with new technology that can uncover previously undetectable substances and found 32 adverse doping cases.

AFN says it has carried out necessary dope tests on Nigerian athletes, adding that they are clean. Technical Director, Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama, told The Guardian that the top athletes, who emerged victorious at the last All Nigeria Open Championship in Warri, Delta State, were made to undergo necessary dope tests soon after their events.

“The athletes know the implication of using drugs to compete,” Nesiama said. “But we are not relenting on our part because the AFN won’t allow any athlete to rubbish the good image of Nigeria before the international community. All the athletes who competed and won during the All Nigerian Open in Warri were tested for drugs and I can say they are clean.

“Blessing Okagbare did not compete in Warri, but she has taken part in some Diamond Leagues this year and that means she is clean. We don’t have anything to worry about as far as drug issues are concerned. We are going to Beijing, not just to complete the number, but try to win medals for Nigeria. We have the athletes and by God’s Grace, we shall return home with great success from Beijing,” Nesiama said.

Among the 32 adverse doping cases released by the IAAF, Eastern Europeans, including Russians, make up a large number of the 28, sources familiar with the testing told Reuters on Tuesday.

They were not aware of any Americans on the list and the BBC reported there were no British athletes.

The world athletics governing body said it could not yet name the 28 or even their nationalities, “due to the legal process”.

“A large majority of the 28 are retired, some are athletes who have already been sanctioned, and only very few remain active in sport,” IAAF said.

“The IAAF is provisionally suspending them and can confirm that none of the athletes concerned will be competing (at the world championships) in Beijing.”

The tests were the second for samples from the 2005 world championships in Helsinki.

Team Nigeria’s contingent to Beijing 2015 has Commonwealth and African track queen, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, Gloria Asumnu, Stephanie Kalu, Cecilia Francis, Deborah Odeyemi, Patience Okon, Regina George, Oluwatosin Adeloye, Margaret Etim, Rita Ossai, Uhunoma Naomi Osazuwa, Doreen Amata, Weyinmi Lindsay and Amaka Ogoegbunam.

The three male athletes making the trip are Tosin Oke, Tega Odele and Miles Ukaoma.



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