Blessing Okagbare, Nigeria’s big medal hope fails drug test, thrown out of Olympics




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•Blessing Okagbare

Nigerian sprinter and 2008 Olympics long jump silver medalist, Blessing Okagbare’s Tokyo Games ended abruptly on Saturday morning after she was provisionally suspended following a positive test for human growth hormone, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said in a statement.

The 32-year-old, who has also won world championship medals in the 200m and long jump, and who is at her fourth Olympic Games, had comfortably won her 100m heat in Tokyo on Friday with a time of 11.05 seconds, qualifying for Saturday’s semifinals.

She was also due to compete in the 200m as well as the 4X100m relay.

The AIU said she tested positive in an out-of-competition test on July 19 and “was notified of the adverse analytical finding and of her provisional suspension this morning in Tokyo”.

This is the latest blow for Nigeria’s athletics team after 10 track and field athletes were ruled as ineligible for the Tokyo 2020 Games three days ago for failing to meet minimum testing requirements.

On the list of banned substances, human growth hormone reduces body fat, increases muscle mass and strength, and helps in recovery, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

When contacted by Reuters, the Nigerian Olympic Committee did not comment on the matter.

Okagbare’s silver medal from the Beijing Games was a result of her being upgraded in 2017 after the International Olympic Committee disqualified Russian athlete Tatyana Lebedeva due to a doping offence. The Nigeria had originally finished third in that long jump competition. (Reuters)