Jumper Ruth Usoro, sprinter Favour Ofili and eight other Nigerian athletes were on Wednesday disqualified from the track and field events of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, The PUNCH has learnt.
While the AIU was yet to respond to our correspondent’s enquiry on the names of athletes who were disqualified, an official in Tokyo told our correspondent that aside Usoro and Ofili, others affected were Chioma Onyekwere (discus), Annette Echikunwoke (hammer), Chidi Okezie (4X400m mixed relays), Knowledge Omovoh (4x100m women), Rosemary Chukwuma(100m), Glory Patrick(4X400m mixed relays), Yinka Ajayi (4X400m mixed relays) and Tima Godless(4X100m relays).
Checks by our correspondent also showed that the names of the athletes mentioned above were missing from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics portal for athletes.
A statement by the Athletics Integrity Unit, which was sent to our correspondent on Wednesday, showed that Nigeria accounted for 50 per cent of the 20 disqualified athletes, with 10 athletes.
“Despite significant improvements in the domestic testing programmes in countries categorised as being the highest doping risk to the sport under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules (Anti-Doping Rules), 18 athletes from the final entries for the Tokyo Olympic Games are not eligible to compete because the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15 of the Anti-Doping Rules were not met by ‘Category A’ Federations. In addition, two athletes from Kenya were replaced by the National Federation prior to the submission of their entries to World Athletics.
“Nigeria is the most affected country, not meeting the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15 for 10 athletes,” the AIU statement said.
Further checks by our correspondent showed that only 12 athletes in the track and field events are left in the Tokyo Olympics portal for Nigeria.
The athletes left on the portal are Enoch Adegoke, Tobi Amusan, Ese Brume, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, Patience George and Usheoritse Itsekiri.
Others are Samson Nathaniel, Grace Nwokocha, Divine Oduduru, Ifeanyi Ojeli, Blessing Okagbare and Imaobong Uko.
The PUNCH had reported on Wednesday that a number of Nigerian athletes were not granted access into the Games Village for not meeting the out-of-competition tests requirements.
The PUNCH reported that discus thrower Chioma Onyekwere’s sister complained that she had not been able to gain access into the Games Village because she was yet to have the mandatory three out-of-competition tests.
Onyekwere, however, posted pictures on Tuesday after being allowed into the Games Village.
The PUNCH had reported in March 2020 that Nigeria was added to the list of countries with the highest doping risk by the AIU.
After PUNCH’s report, the then Technical Director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria in the Shehu Gusau-led factional AFN, Sunday Adeleye, warned that the country risked missing the Olympics if the sports ministry did not fund the Nigeria Anti-Doping Agency to conduct the tests on the athletes.
Adeleye said the last time tests were conducted was during the All Comers Meet in Ijebu Ode in April 2019.
Adeleye’s warning was however refuted by then factional President of the AFN, Olamide George and its secretary-general Adisa Beyioku.
“The addition of Nigeria to the A category was done in March this year and both the AFN and the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development have made appreciable efforts to ensure compliance with the relevant anti-doping rules. I am shocked the newspaper failed in its duty of reporting all sides to the story. Adeleye should have been asked what efforts the AFN make while he was there as technical director,” George said
According to the AIU, “Under the framework of Rule 15 governing National Federation Anti-Doping Obligations, which came into force in January 2019, National Federations are accountable for ensuring appropriate anti-doping measures are in place in their respective jurisdictions.
“Among other things, the rule sets out minimum requirements for testing on the national teams of ‘Category A’ federations deemed to have the highest doping risk and considered as a threat to the overall integrity of the sport.
“The key requirement in Rule 15 is that an athlete from a ‘Category A’ country must undergo at least three no-notice out-of-competition tests (urine and blood) conducted no less than three weeks apart in the 10 months leading up to a major event. Only then do they become eligible to represent their national team at the World Athletics Championships or the Olympic Games.”
Nigeria, Belarus, Bahrain, Ethiopia Kenya, Morocco, and Ukraine are the countries listed in Category A with high doping risk.
The AIU further said a total of “1600 out-of-competition tests was conducted in the domestic programmes of these Federations.”
“Nigeria was included in Category A at the start of 2020 following a continued period of weak domestic testing levels,” the AIU added.
Further checks by our correspondent on the 2020 Olympics portal showed that Usoro’s name was conspicuously missing from the start list of the women’s triple jump, which takes place Friday evening in Tokyo.
The 4x400m mixed relay team, which was also to compete in the heats by 8:00pm Tokyo time, had only Imaobong Uko and Samson Nathaniel on the start list out of the needed four, with other countries having the required four. Chidi Okezie, Glory Patrick and Yinka Ajayi were the other members of the mixed relay team whose names were missing from the Olympics portal.
Our correspondent learnt that the officials were making frantic efforts to register Ifeanyi Ojeli for the race, after he was not initially registered for the Olympics in the official portal.
Reacting to the new development, Adeleye told The PUNCH, “I am heartbroken right now. I warned and I raised the alarm on this matter and they said I don’t know what I am talking about; that I am only looking for relevance. It is a sad moment for Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, our correspondent has gathered that the 10 athletes who have been disqualified from the Olympics will be ejected from the Games Village immediately.