Blessing Okagbare, the popular Nigerian sprinter has been handed a 10-year ban for doping violations.
The 33-year-old has been handed 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.
Okagbare was a medal contender for the women’s 100m at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after an impressive run of form.
She ran a wind-assisted 10.63 seconds at the Nigerian trials in June, before winning her heat in Tokyo in 11.05.
Okagbare then “tested positive for human growth hormone” on 19 July, ruling her out of the semi-finals.
An Olympic silver medalist in the long jump in Beijing 2008 and World Championship silver medalist at Moscow 2013, she also holds the Commonwealth Games record of 10.85 in the women’s 100m from Glasgow 2014.
A statement read: “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.
“The sole arbitrator adjudicating the case concluded that the athlete’s use of multiple prohibited substances as part of an organised doping regimen in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympic Games was egregious conduct that amounted to aggravating circumstances under the Rules thereby warranting an additional period of ineligibility on top of the standard four-year sanction.
“The sole arbitrator also recognised the AIU’s right to carry out investigations, including the imaging of electronic devices, and to impose sanctions when an athlete refuses to co-operate with an investigation and thereby frustrates the AIU’s ability to fulfil its mandate to protect the integrity of the sport of athletics. In this instance, the sole arbitrator concluded that the athlete’s refusal to cooperate had denied the AIU the opportunity to discover evidence of possible further rule violations by her as well possible violations of the rules by others, for which he imposed an additional sanction of five years.”
Head of the AIU Brett Clothier said: “We welcome the decision of the Disciplinary Tribunal; a ban of 10-year is a strong message against intentional and co-ordinated attempts to cheat at the very highest level of our sport.
“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,” said Brett Clothier, Head of the AIU.”