Shocker: World Athletics body sends 10 Nigeria athletes out of Olympics

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As huge a number as 10 Nigerian Track and Field athletes have been sent packing from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for not meeting the testing conditions of the Athletics Integrity Unit of the sport. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), a unit of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) that was founded in April 2017 to combat doping in the sport of athletics, released a statement on Wednesday, July 28 to announce that 18 athletes from the final entry for the Tokyo Olympic Games are not eligible to compete because the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15 of the Anti-Doping Rules were not met by ‘Category A’ Federations.

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), the body that governs athletics in Nigeria, falls under the ‘Category A’ federations and has the most affected athletes. According to the AIU, these disqualifications were because the athletes did not meet a rule that sets out the minimum requirements for testing on the national teams of ‘Category A’ federations. The rule states that athletes from ‘Category A’ countries must undergo at least three no-notice out-of-competition tests (urine and blood) conducted no less than three weeks apart in the 10 months leading up to a major event.

“Only then do they become eligible to represent their national team at the World Athletics Championships or the Olympic Games,” AIU said in the statement. The AFN, however, failed to conduct these tests for its athletes, which has led to his unfortunate development. Nigeria was included in Category A at the start of 2020 following a continued period of weak domestic testing levels. The Integrity unit of World Athletics however cleared 12 Nigerian athletes as eligible to participate fully at the Tokyo Olympics.

Reigning Nigeria sprint queen and 100/200m record holder, Blessing Okagbare tops the list of 12 athletes the Athletics Integrity Unit has cleared to compete in the athletics event of the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympics which begins on Friday. Also cleared to contest are sprint hurdler, Tobiloba Amusan who is ranked number four in the 100m hurdles; long jumper Ese Brume who tops the world list in her event coming to the games and Grace Nwokocha, the  home-based sensation who clocked 11.09 seconds in March at the MOC Grand Prix in Lagos to seal her qualification for the Tokyo Games. 

Others are the trio of Divine Oduduru, Enoch Adegoke and Ushoritse Itshekiri who will be competing in the men’s 100m while Oduduru will also race in the 200m, an event he holds the national record of 19.73 seconds which he set two years ago in Austin, Texas in the USA to win the NCAA gold. Shot putter Chukwuebuka Enekwechi who made it to the event’s final at the World Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar in 2019 is also cleared to compete. The 4x400m mixed relay quartet of Imaobong Nse Uko, Patience Okon-George, Nataniel Samson and Ifeanyi Ojeli are also cleared to compete and will be in action on Friday in the first semifinal heat.

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