Tag Archives: Blessing Okagbare

Blessing Okagbare handed 11 years for doping

Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare has been handed an extra one-year ban for additional doping violations to add to her existing 10-year suspension.

The Athletics Integrity Unit charged her with “evading sample collection, and tampering or attempted tampering with the doping control process”.

In February, the 33-year-old was handed her original ban for “multiple breaches of anti-doping rules”.

She was suspended during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics after failing a drug test.

As a result of Okagbare’s additional ban, Nigeria has lost its potential qualification place in the women’s 4x100m relay at July’s World Championships in Oregon.

Six days after she evaded sample collection – on 13 June 2021 – she competed in the relay event at Nigeria’s Olympic trials, helping her team to qualify for the World Championships. However, all results involving Okagbare have now been disqualified.

“Over the years, we have repeatedly seen how one person’s actions adversely affect team-mates who have trained hard and worked honestly for their results,” AIU head Brett Clothier said in a statement.

“In this instance, Nigeria has lost an important qualification spot. Those are the rules and we will not compromise on integrity.”

Okagbare, the 2008 Olympic long jump silver medallist, was a medal contender for the women’s 100m in Tokyo last year and won her heat in 11.05 seconds.

But she was ruled out of the semi-finals after the AIU said she had tested positive for a human growth hormone following an out-of-competition test on 19 July.

Favour Ofili smashes Blessing Okagbare African Record

The 2019 African Games silver medallist, Favour Chukwuka Ofili smashed the long standing record as she became the first women in college to ever run under the 22 second barrier at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) that was held on Friday (15) at the Tom Jones Invitational Memoria in Florida.

The 19 year-old broke Blessing Okagbare previously held African Record and the National Record that she set in 2018 with a time of 22.04 seconds.

The 2018 African Youth Games champion, ran a blistering 21.96 secs setting a new Personal Best, National Record (NR) and World Lead (WL) time of 21.96s (1.3) to take the women’s 200m title.

United States Kamaya Debose-Epps came home in second place with a new personal best 22.81 secs and her compatriot, the 19 year-old Jonah Ross closing the podium finishes in 22.91 secs.

Blessing Okagbare faces fresh four-year ban for doping violation

Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, who was, at the weekend, banned for 10 years by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of World Athletics for doping offences, may be further punished by the body for more anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs) following revelations in the ongoing case between the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Eric Lira.

The latest indictment could also see a Nigerian male sprinter getting a four-year ban alongside Okagbare.

On January 12, 2022, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York issued a press release concerning the filing of criminal charges publicly against Lira.

Those charges relate to the distribution of prohibited substances to two athletes for the purpose of cheating at the 2020 Olympic Games held in Tokyo in the summer of 2021.

The FBI complaint sets out highly incriminating text and voice messages by ‘Athlete 1, who the AIU believes is Okagbare with a contact named “Eric Lira Doctor’ in 2020 and 2021.

The messages include Okagbare asking Lira for vials or doses of EPO and hGH and querying the quantity of drugs she would need for herself and ‘Athlete 2’ (believed to be a Nigerian male sprinter).

The messages also included Okagbare sending to Lira a list of drugs that she wanted, including hGH and EPO.

On June 13, 2021, Okagbare queried in a message sent to Lira whether she was safe to take a test following a particular dosage, and because she was not sure, she ‘just let them go so it will be a missed test.’

Following this revelation, World Athletics, on January 14, 2022, sent a notice of investigation letter to Okagbare concerning the potential ADRVs of Evading sample collection (Rule 2.3) and tampering (Rule 2.5).

The notice, according to World Athletics, was based on its assertion that Okagbare is “Athlete 1.”

The AIU is currently investigating these matters albeit Okagbare in her defence claimed she did not evade any test.

“As I had earlier responded to you on this issue, I did [sic] was in my room on June 13, 2021, and did not hear or see the DCO (Doping Control Officer). Though that I ensured that my phone was available in case there was a need to reach me on my mobile phone, I had no knowledge that the DCO was at my door on that day.

“On the demand to provide copies of messages referred to in the unsealed complaint against Lira, I did not have any such conversation or message with Lira at any time on or around June 13, 2021 to the best of my knowledge and do not have it on my phone,” Okagbare wrote in her defence.

She is liable to a further four-year ban if she is found guilty of violating Rule 2.3 or Rule 2.5.

source: guardian.ng

Blessing Okagbare : Hires lawyers to defend her doping case

The 2008 Beijing Silver Olympic medalist Blessing Okagbare, who two days ago was banned for 10 years by Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for alleged multiple breaches of anti-doping rules, has hired lawyers who are studying the case for the next course of action.

Okagbare, through her Instagram social media handle @itsblessingokagbare on Saturday said,

“My attention has been drawn to the statement issued by the AIU regarding its disciplinary panel’s decision. My lawyers are currently studying it for our next line of action which we will inform you soon,” she wrote.

The AIU, banned the athlete for use of prohibited substances and refusal to cooperate with the Unit’s investigation.

The 34 year-old was provisionally suspended on July 31, 2021, on the day she had been scheduled to participate in the semi-finals of the Tokyo 2020 women’s 100m.

The AIU, on October. 7, 2021, issued charges against Okagbare in relation to separate disciplinary matters.

The first case was, for the presence and use of multiple (two) prohibited substances (human Growth Hormone (hGH) and recombinant erythropoietin (EPO)) for which Ms Okagbare had been provisionally suspended on 31 July 2021.

The second offence was her refusal to co-operate with with the AIU’s investigation into her case which is against the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rule 12.

United States prosecutors charge man for supplying drugs to Blessing Okagbare

U.S. prosecutors, yesterday, charged a Texas man with providing performance-enhancing drugs to athletes at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, including Nigerian sprinter, Blessing Okagbare, according to wire reports.

Eric Lira, 41, of El Paso, is the first person to be charged under a new U.S. anti-doping law governing international sports competitions.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said Lira distributed the drugs, including human growth hormone, “for the purpose of corrupting” the 2020 Games. Lira also is accused of conspiring to violate drug misbranding and adulteration laws. It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney who could comment on the charges.

The criminal complaint does not name Okagbare but includes details suggesting she was among Lira’s clients. A text message was sent to Okagbare seeking comment.

Okagbare had been provisionally suspended for testing positive for human growth hormone in July 2021, just hours before the former world championships silver medalist was due to run in the semifinals of the women’s 100 meters at the Olympics. She tested positive for the drug in an out-of-competition test.

A criminal complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court alleges that Lira, a kinesiologist and naturopathic doctor, brought “misbranded” versions of the drugs to the United States from Central and South America before distributing them to athletes.

Authorities searched Okagbare’s cellphone as she was returning to the United States and found she had been communicating with Lira over using an encrypted app, according to the complaint.

Source: sportsnow.com.ng

Blessing Okagbare was never abandoned in Tokyo, says AFN

An official of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has described as false an allegation by Blessing Okagbare’s sister, Grace that the sprinter was abandoned soon after she was suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) over drugs issues at the Tokyo Olympics Games.

Okagbare was suspended on the eve of her semifinal in the 100m event in Tokyo.

Apart from accusing the nation of abandoning the sprinter, her sister also alleged that Blessing was being forced to accept doping charges instituted against her by the AIU.

However, an official of the AFN told The Guardian yesterday that top officials of the federation as well as those in Team Nigeria nearly ‘stepped out of the boundary’ in Tokyo in their bid to show Okagbare solidarity shortly after the news of her suspension was broken.

The AFN official said: “It is not true that Nigeria abandoned Okagbare as alleged by her sister, Grace. We went contrary to the guidelines in Tokyo in our bid to show our solidarity and love to her. When the news of her suspension was broken, Team Nigeria quickly dispatched some top officials to her. They stayed with Blessing in her room consoling her. Some of them even stayed with her throughout the night.

“Even when Blessing was leaving for the airport, she did not go alone. So, why will her sister point accuse fingers at the AFN and Nigeria that Blessing was abandoned? I can’t also understand why Grace is saying that Blessing is being forced to accept doping charges instituted against her by the Athletics Integrity Unit. Did anybody force her to take performance-enhancing drugs in the first place? Is Blessing still a baby?”

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) had said that it charged Okagbare after she tested positive for human growth hormone and recombinant erythropoietin (EPO).

Source: guardian.ng

Blessing Okagbare charged with three Anti-doping offences

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has issued charges against Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare in relation to three separate disciplinary matters.

The athlete has been charged with the presence and use of a prohibited substance following the detection of Human Growth Hormone in a sample collected out-of-competition on July 19 in Slovakia.

An AIU statement said: This matter was publicly announced on 31st July when Okagbare was provisionally suspended. She had been scheduled to participate in the semi-finals of the Toko 2020 women’s 100m that day.

The athlete has also been charged with the presence and use of a prohibited substance following the detection of recombinant erythropoietin (EPO) in a sample collected out-of-competition on 20th June in Nigeria.

The AIU requested EPO analysis be conducted on the sample on 29th July and the adverse analytical finding was reported to the AIU on 12th August.

Okagbare was notified of the adverse analytical finding on 20th August. Human Growth Hormone and EPO are non-specified substances on the 2021 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.

A provisional suspension is mandatory following an adverse analytical finding for such a substance under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules and the athlete remains provisionally suspended. Finally, the AIU has issued a further charge against Okagbare in accordance with Rule 12 of the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules following the athlete’s refusal to co-operate with the AIU’s investigation into her case.

The athlete failed to comply with a formal requirement to produce relevant documents, records and electronic storage devices, which was issued to the athlete by the AIU on 15th September. The athlete denies all charges and has requested that each of them be submitted to a hearing before the Disciplinary Tribunal.

Shock as another Bahrain suspended for doping Violation

Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has provisionally suspended Bahraini marathon runner El Hassan El Abbassi after returning an adverse analytical finding for a homologous blood transfusion following a test at the Tokyo 2020.

The 37-year-old’s sample was collected after the Olympic marathon in Sapporo on 8th August where he finished 25th with a time of 2:15.56 in a race won Eliud Kipchoge.

Homologous blood transfusions involve someone collecting and infusing the blood of a compatible donor while autologous blood transfusions use a person’s own blood that has been stored.

The International Testing Agency (ITA), in charge of drugs testing during the Games, reported the results of the test on Aug. 15 and said that the athlete had the right to have his ‘B’ sample examined.

ITA had also suspended another Bahrainian middle distance runner Alsadik Mikhou for receiving a blood transfusion during the Tokyo Olympic Games.

El Abbassi won gold in the 10,000 metres at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea and a silver medal in the marathon four years later at Jakarta, Indonesia.

Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare and Kenyan 100m runner Mark Otieno Odhiambo were both previously suspended for drug violations.

Alsadik Mikhou Provisionally Suspended for Blood Doping during Tokyo games

International Testing Agency (ITA) has provisionally suspended Bahrain middle distance runner Alsadik Mikhou for receiving a blood transfusion during the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The Moroccan-born athlete competed in the men’s 1,500m heats last Tuesday, but failed to advance as he finished eighth in a time of 3:42.87.

The 21 year-old is the third athlete to fail a doping test at Tokyo 2020. Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare and Kenyan 100m runner Mark Otieno Odhiambo were both previously suspended for drug violations.

Athletes from 16 countries competing in Olympics after CHEATING

Athletes have been competing in Tokyo after cheating by manipulating times and photo-finish pictures, as well as shortening courses.

Competitors worldwide broke the rules to make the qualifying standard for Tokyo, World Athletics investigators have found.

Cheats from up to 16 countries were identified before the Games, leading to eight bans from the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

But some of those suspected of wrongdoing are thought to have made it to Tokyo, having cheated via methods that also included the use of unauthorized field equipment and the illegal use of pacemakers.

The wide network of cheating is expected to have taken in officials from national federations wanting to get their athletes to the Games.

Competing in the Olympics can lead to considerable financial reward, especially for athletes from less wealthy nations. There are also political benefits in having as large a presence as possible at the Games.

‘In preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, our team identified, analyzed and investigated potential instances of competition manipulation,’ David Howman, the AIU chair, said in a statement.

‘Thanks to our investigations, World Athletics refused to recognize several questionable qualifying performances. The AIU will continue to investigate these matters to determine if any fraudulent conduct was involved.’

The AIU identified cases of suspicious qualifying performances from 31 athletes across 16 countries in the lead-up to the Games.

Other cases have led to further investigation to determine if cheating took place.

The AIU has had considerable success in bringing sanctions against athletes since it was set up in 2016 under the stewardship of its head Brett Clothier, an Australian former lawyer with a background in sports integrity.

It brought forward the one doping case at Tokyo 2020 when the sprinter Blessing Okagbare, a Nigerian world silver medalist, was suspended after testing positive for human growth hormone.