AFN Stands With Blessing Okagbare After Tokyo Olympics Disqualification

By Lekan Sowande.

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The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) stands with legendary Nigerian athlete Blessing Okagbare after her shock disqualification by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for a doping rule violation during the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Japan.

The AIU in a statement said the Nigerian 100/200m record holder was provisionally suspended with immediate effect after a sample collected from the 32 year-old tested positive for Human Growth Hormone.

The AFN said it is in the process of obtaining the relevant details of the announcement after which a full reaction would be issued.

“The Athletics Federation of Nigeria has received with great disbelief the news that Blessing Okagbare has tested positive to Human Growth Hormone,” the AFN said in a statement. “Blessing is an athlete with impeccable records since her emergence on the track and field scene as a 16-year-old.”

“She has served the country in the best possible way without any scandal and is one of the most disciplined athletes not just in Nigeria, but in the world over. She has always flown the flag of the country high at every level and that is seen in her career progression.”

Nigerian athlete Blessing Okagbare competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

“Blessing as an athlete has been tested over 12 times (both blood and urine) this year and there’s been nothing of such. As a Federation, we believe there must have been a mistake somewhere. While we await the result of the B Sample, we need to state first that she hasn’t been banned but only suspended from the Games unfortunately,” the statement added.

“We would also like to appeal to Nigerians to stand by her and put her in prayers as we as a Federation continues to do everything in our power to encourage her as her well-being and mental health is our utmost priority at this time.” 

Okagbare, who was scheduled to take part in the semi-finals of the women’s 100m in Tokyo, was notified of the adverse analytical finding of her provisional suspension on Saturday morning in Tokyo.

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.

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