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TOKYO OLYMPICS: NIGERIA’S BLESSING OKAGBARE DISQUALIFIED AFTER FAILING DRUG TESTS

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Farouq Oduola A.

Blessing Okagbare, Nigerian sprinter and 2008 Olympic long jump silver medalist, was provisionally suspended from the Tokyo Games on Saturday morning after testing positive for human growth hormone, according to the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

The 32-year-old, who has also won world championship medals in the 200m and long jump, and is competing in her fourth Olympic Games, won her 100m heat in Tokyo on Friday with a timing of 11.05 seconds, qualifying for the semifinals on Saturday.

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She was also scheduled to run in the 200-meter race and the 4×100-meter relay.

On July 19, she tested positive in an out-of-competition test, and “was informed of the adverse analytical finding and of her provisional ban this morning in Tokyo,” according to the AIU.

This is the latest setback for Nigeria’s athletics team, which was already declared ineligible for the Tokyo 2020 Games three days ago after ten track and field competitors failed to meet minimal testing standards.

Human growth hormone is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances because it decreases body fat, enhances muscular mass and strength, and aids recovery.

The Nigerian Olympic Committee declined to comment when approached by Reuters.

Okagbare’s silver medal from the Beijing Games was a result of her being upgraded in 2017 after the International Olympic Committee disqualified Russian athlete Tatyana Lebedeva due to a doping offence. The Nigeria had originally finished third in that long jump competition.

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