NIGERIA’S greatest Olympic medal hope Blessing Okagbare has been suspended from further participation on the games after failing a dope test this morning when she tested positive for using a human growth hormone.
Okagbare, 32, who was on course for at least a medal in the 100 and 200 metre sprints, won her 100m heat yesterday and was due to feature in the 200 metres today. Technically, she has been provisionally suspended from future events but in reality, this means that her Olympic dream is over and at 32, so too is her athletics career.
On July 19, a drugs sample was collected from Okagbare in an out-of-competition test but the laboratory that analysed it only informed the Athletics Integrity Unit of the positive result yesterday and she was told about it this morning. A regular in global sprint finals, Okagbare ran the second-fastest 100m time in all conditions last month when clocking 10.63 seconds in Lagos, although the time did not count as legal due to the 2.7m/s tailwind.
This latest ban is the latest doping shock to hit the Nigerian team after 10 of its 23 track and field athletes were struck off on the eve of competition when they were told they had not taken enough drugs tests to be eligible to compete. Nigeria is one of seven Category A countries deemed most at risk of doping and therefore subject to stricter controls than other nations.
All Nigerian athletes must undergo at least three no-notice, out-of-competition tests in the 10 months leading to a major event. Only having completed them are they eligible to compete at the Olympics.
Okagbare’s absence continues a raft of high-profile track and field athletes to miss these Tokyo Games. World 100m champion Christian Coleman and world 400m champion Salwa Eid Nasser are banned after doping test whereabouts failures, while fellow American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson is also absent after testing positive for cannabis.