Tokyo 2021: Reps probe Ministry of Sports, athletes doping disqualification

• Nigerian Athletes' disqualification a national embarrassment ― Hon Ayeni

The House of Representatives on Wednesday unveiled plans to investigate the activities of the Federal Ministry of Sports and Youth Development over the disqualification of Nigerian Athletes over failed doping tests, at the just-concluded Olympics Games, held in Tokyo.

The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Police Affairs, Lawrence Babatunde Ayeni.

In his lead debate, Ayeni who frowned at development, described the massive disqualification of Nigerian Athletes as a national embarrassment.

“The House is aware that the Nigerian delegation to the international competition, popularly known as Olympic Games being held across the world have fared well in terms of performance and raised the country’s rating among comity of nations.

“The House recalls the outstanding performance of the Nigerian Football Team which bagged the historic first soccer gold medal at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta.

“The House expressed grave concern over the turn of events, whereby the World Athletics’ independent anti-doping arm, Athletics Integrity Unit, had on the 20th July, 2021, rolled out its sledged hammer on, no fewer than 10 Nigerian Athletes, including the highly rated Blessing Okagbare, who had made the country proud at various international competitions.

“The House is worried about the report that 10 Nigerian athletes out of the 18 competitors from “high-risk” nations were barred from the Tokyo Olympics after failing to meet requirements for out-of-competition drug testing.

“The House noted that the Athletics Integrity Unit via a statement alleged that Blessing Okagbare, who won her opening heat of the Women’s 100 meters on Friday. had tested positive for human growth hormone.

“The House further leant that the Athletics Integrity Unit in the statement affirming that the Athletes concerned had failed to comply with rules introduced in 2019 requiring those from countries deemed to be at highest risk of doping — so called “Category A” nations — to undergo three no-notice out-of; competition tests in a 10-month period leading up to a major event.

“The House is concerned that despite the huge funds made available on yearly basis for the Regulatory Agencies in the Sport sector, no specific facility that will enable Nigeria to get into the Category A where such counties were regarded to have made “significant improvements” with anti-doping efforts,” he noted.

To this end, the House resolved to invite the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Mr Sunday Dare to give a report on the level of Nigeria’s compliance to extant regulations set by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the independent anti-doping arm, Athletics Integrity Unit.

The House also urged the Federal Ministry of Sports and Youth Development on the need to put necessary measures in place to ensure adequate compliance with extant regulations at both local and international competitions.

In the bid to ensure accountability of public fund and oversight function, the House mandated its Committee on Sports to investigate the immediate and remote cause of the failed doping test, with a view to forestall future occurrence, and strengthen its oversight function.

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