Nigerian Sprinter, Blessing Okagbare, Faces 11-Year Doping Ban
Former Nigerian track and field athlete Blessing Okagbare is a long jump medalist at the Olympic and World Championships, and in the 200 meters, she has won a several medal.
With a time of 10.85 seconds, she also holds the Commonwealth Games record for the fastest women’s 100-meter time.
However, the 33-year-old was given a 10-year suspension in February for breaking several World Athletics anti-doping rules.
The 10-year penalty already imposed on the Blessing Okagbare has been extended by another year due to new findings.
She was accused of “evading sample collection and tampering or attempted tampering with the doping control process” by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).
She failed a drug test, which led to her suspension during the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Nigeria has lost its chance to qualify for the women’s 4x100m relay at the World Championships in Oregon in July due to Okagbare’s further ban.
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Who is Blessing Okagbare?
Okagbare was born in Sapele, Delta, Nigeria, and is of Urhobo descent. Her professors and relatives pushed her to participate in sports because of her athletic body.
She first participated in football as a high school student before developing an interest in track and field in 2004.
Early on, she competed in a variety of sports, winning medals in the long jump, triple jump, and high jump competitions at the Nigerian school championships.
She won the bronze medal in the triple jump for the senior national team at the 2004 Nigerian National Sports Festival.
At the 2006 World Junior Championships in Athletics, Okagbare made her debut on the global stage by competing in the qualifying rounds of the long jump and triple jump events.
In the triple jump, she set a Nigerian record of 14.13 meters in May 2007 in Lagos at the All-Africa Games trials.
She took up the silver medal in the long jump at the 2007 All-Africa Games and came in fourth in the triple jump. In the later competition, Chinonye Ohadugha’s 14.21-meter leap broke her previous record for Nigeria.
More on Blessing Okagbare’s ban
On June 13, 2021, six days after evading sample collection, she participated in the relay event in Nigeria’s Olympic trials, assisting her team in earning a spot in the World Championships. However, Okagbare has now been disqualified.
“Over the years, we have repeatedly seen how one person’s actions adversely affect teammates 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, who won the silver medal in the long jump at the 2008 Olympics, finished first in her preliminary round of the women’s 100-meter race in Tokyo last year in 11.05 seconds.
She was, however, disqualified from the semi-finals after the AIU reported that a test conducted outside of competition on July 19 revealed she had tested positive for a human growth hormone.
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