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Blessing Okagbare leaves Tokyo Olympics games after failing drug test

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

Efforts by the Nigerian contingent to ongoing Tokyo Olympics games to win a medal has suffered a major setback after one of its top medal athletes, Blessing Okagbare, was “provisionally” suspended for using a banned substance, human growth hormone.

The 32-year-old Nigerian athlete was suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) after she failed an anti-doping test conducted on her during an out-of-competition test on July 19, barely four days before games commenced in Japan.

AIU announced the outcome of the event hours before the 100 meters semi-final heat scheduled for Saturday where Okagbare was expected to have an easy ride to the final.

In the statement released by the anti-doping agency, the outcome of the test received has been communicated to the Nigerian athlete and would no longer compete at the Tokyo Olympics.

The statement read, “The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has provisionally suspended Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria today with immediate effect after a sample collected from the sprinter tested positive for Human Growth Hormone.

“Growth Hormone is a non-specified substance on the 2021 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List and a provisional suspension is mandatory following an adverse analytical finding for such substance under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules.

“The AIU collected the sample from Ms. Okagbare during an out-of-competition test on 19 July. The WADA-accredited laboratory that analysed the sample notified the AIU of the adverse analytical finding at mid-day Central European Time yesterday, Friday 30 July.

“The athlete was notified of the adverse analytical finding and of her provisional suspension this morning in Tokyo. She was scheduled to participate in the semi-finals of the women’s 100m this evening.

“The AIU will make no further comment on this matter at this time.”

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