The independent Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), which sits at the heart of the IAAF’s integrity reforms has given the fifth Okpekpe International 10km Road Race held last month in Okpekpe, near Auchi, Edo State, a clean bill of health following the negative dope tests recorded at the one-day meeting.
In an e-mail message to promoter of the race Mike Itemuagbor, the AIU confirmed that none of the samples taken at the event tested positive for the use of performance enhancing drugs.
”I am pleased to inform you that the analyses of the doping control samples collected at Okpekpe Intl 10km Road Race, performed at the WADA-accredited laboratory in Stockholm, did not reveal the presence or use of a substance or method prohibited under the current WADA Prohibited List,” wrote Virginie Ocquidant on behalf of the AIU.
This development, according to Dare Esan, spokesman for the only IAAF-certified road race in Nigeria is a big pat on the back for the organisers of the race.
”In an era where doping is damaging the sport, a high profile race like the Okpekpe international 10km road race has restored some confidence in the sport of track and field,” Esan said but admitted organisers of the race had no control over the athletes who competed at the race.
“But we have control over how we organise the race, especially the doping control which the IAAF ranks as one of the most important aspects of an international road race like the Okpkekpe race. The promoter of the race, Itemuagbor was clear about the doping issue from the start and spared no expense in getting not only the most qualified Nigerian but also a very honest man in person of Dr Akin Amao to head the unit. He also ensured everything was done in accordance with IAAF regulations.”
The Okpekpe international 10km road race is the only road race in Nigeria that is recognised by both the IAAF and Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) because its race course has been measured by an accredited personnel using the approved calibrated method.