Before he travelled to America on scholarship a few years ago, high jumper, David Aya, promised his auntie, who, despite her health challenges, was able to raise some money for the junior athlete to travel, that he would do ‘small jobs’ in America to raise money to support her.
Rather than keeping to his promise of studying and doing ‘some small jobs,’ Aya allegedly started doping and was caught.
“I am so concerned about my auntie, who gave me money to travel,” Aya said, while narrating his ordeal.
The world seems to have crashed on him after he tested positive to banned substances. He has been slapped with a four-year career ban, the scholarship he won to study in an American university has equally been suspended, and now, he is pleading with Nigerians to come to his aid to pay for legal services to reduce or quash the ban and resume his career and studies.
According to Mainlandmetronews.com.ng, Aya was handed a four-year ban, a long time for a high jumper to be out of action. Being out of action for that long could lead to weight gain, which could make it difficult for him to return to fitness after serving his term.
“As a first offender and a junior athlete, I believe that four years is long,” Aya said. “I am not yet an elite athlete, I have not been to the Olympics yet. It is harsh and I want Nigerians to help so that I can pay for legal counsel.”
Aya revealed that he volunteered to do the dope test on his own, because when the Nigerian junior team was going to the World Athletics Junior Championships in Colombia, they were ordered to undergo dope tests before they could be part of the team.
“I did three dope tests and it was the middle one that gave me this problem. Before we went to Colombia, nobody told me I had issues with my test. I did not know anything. It was when I got to America that they sent me a letter that I had failed a test and my world came crashing.”
The high jumper said: “I was like banging my head on the wall trying to know exactly where things had gone wrong, because I know very well the implications of using drug enhancing performance.
“It was then a doctor asked me if I had eaten pork. I told him yes. He said to me that pork meat can cause a spark of steroids in the system if it is mixed with some other healthy supplement I might be taking.
“A nutritionist friend of mine also asked me the same thing. All the vitamins I have been taking are not on the WADA list, and so, it was a rude shock to me. I didn’t have all this information.
“They say ignorance is no excuse in law. I just hope that I can get a good lawyer that can help get me out of this mess,” he said. Speaking on Aya’s case, Athletics Federation of Nigeria Medical and Doping Director, Prof. Ken Anugweje, described what happened to Aya as regrettable.
“But rules are rules made by the World Athletics and these rules are adapted from WADA.
“It is based on the substance found in the system more than any other consideration. Some substances warrant only public warnings, but what was found in Aya’s body warranted the lengthy ban. These are prescribed sanctions by the athletics body.
“The claim that he ate pork is a long story because it is no longer valid. It is a claim that has been made before by athletes who tried to hold on to something that has to do with clenbuterol.
“In the past, some countries used steroids to fatten their cows and pigs. Those are no longer an excuse. Where did he eat the pork and who sold the pork to him?
“We know Aya very well. He used to come to the High Performance Centre in Port Harcourt to train. It is very unfortunate what happened to him,” Anugweje stated.