We Are Investigating It, Says Okowa
The Head coach of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Seigha Porbeni has described as ‘worrisome,’ the latest doping crisis facing the country’s sports.
Within 48 hours, two Nigerian athletes were alleged to have failed dope tests. First, was the young high jumper, David Aya, who failed a drugs test at last month’s World Athletics Junior Championships in Cali, Colombia.
While the AFN is still trying to unravel the circumstances surrounding Aya’s dope issue, the country was hit by a fresh doping crisis, as a member of the gold winning Nigeria women 4x100meters at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Grace Nkwokocha, allegedly failed a dope test. The team featuring Tobi Amusan, Rosemary Chukwuma, Favour Ofili and Grace Nwokocha, won gold with a new African record of 42.10s. But this may amount to nothing as the anchor of the race, Nwokacha, is in the dope dragnet.
While saying the issue is worrisome, Porbeni said it was too early to jump into conclusion. “I am not supposed to comment on this, because it is strictly under the Chairman and members of the Anti-doping committee of the AFN. However, the matter is still being investigated. As soon as this issue is clarified, the AFN will make a public statement through the President of the Federation. Let us be patient. The Federation is equally as disturbed about this unpleasant development.”
On his part, AFN Technical Director, Samuel Onikeku said, “We just got correspondence and we have not even sat on it.”Some media reports indicate that the AFN has been notified of the development by the World Anti-doping agency as the confirmation of the B sample of the affected athletes is still being awaited.
As a rule, Team Nigeria would be stripped of the medal and the performance, if the athlete involved, Nwokwocha, is not exonerated. Apart from staining the record achieved by Team Nigeria at Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the number of gold medal will reduce to 11. President Buhari is yet to officially receive the team in Abuja.
AFN president, Tonobok Okowa expressed shock at the turn of events saying, “I’m not yet aware of any positive test, but that would be shocking. Yes, we just received the test result. Aya is a youth athlete; it’s too early to start making comments especially if the boy is not aware of what he took. The truth is, an athlete is responsible for whatever thing he takes and it’s not a federation obligation.
We can’t say anything about that now, especially with my position as AFN president, but we will write to World Athletics to further know what it’s about before we can make an official statement. We need to find out other things like how and when did it happen, or whether he ingested it medically or from food or drink. These are the things we need to confirm.”
He also hinted that the body was continually educating the athletes against taking banned substances and insists those caught doping would be sanctioned.