Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare, who made headlines for receiving suspension ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games last year for her involvement in an “organized doping regimen”, has been slapped with a 10-year ban from the sport, making her ineligible to compete until 2031. The 2008 Beijing silver medallist in long jump was suspended in July last year, only hours before the women’s 100 meters semis at the Olympics.
A prolonged user of EPO and HGH, Blessing Okagbare was a recipient of a PED supplier from Texas
Okagbare had failed two back to back tests last year prior to her initial suspension. In June, she first tested positive for EPO blood booster and then in the next month once again for human growth hormone in Slovakia. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) had originally slapped Okagbare with a five year ban and later doubled it due to the athlete’s lack of cooperation in the investigations that followed.
“The Disciplinary Tribunal has banned Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare for a total of 10 years, five years for the presence and use of multiple prohibited substances and five years for her refusal to co-operate with the AIU’s investigation into her case,” an official statement from the AIU read.
In January this year, Okagbare was found in links with a 41-year-old man named Eric Lira, a kinesiologist and naturopathic doctor who hails from El Paso, Texas. Mr Lira was changed with the supply of banned, performance enhancing substances to several athletes taking part in the Tokyo Olympics, including Okagbare whose cellphone had revealed that she was in touch with Lira via an encrypted app.
“We welcome the decision of the Disciplinary Tribunal; a ban of 10 year(s) is a strong message against intentional and co-ordinated attempts to cheat at the very highest level of our sport,” said AIU head Brett Clothier, “This is an outcome that was driven by our intelligence-led target testing as well as our commitment to investigate the circumstances behind a positive test.” [H/T Reuters]
Okagbare, who clinched silver in long jump in Beijing, is now 33 years of age and her decade-long ban, effective from 30th July 2021 will deem her eligible when she will be aged 43, essentially putting a deplorable end to her athletics career.
- Nigerian sprinter and long jumper Blessing Okagbare has been slapped with a 10-year ban for multiple breaches of anti-doping rules prior to the Tokyo Olympics last year
- Okagbare tested positive for EPO and human growth hormone and was involved in an organized doping regimen