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A 24-year-old Nigerian weightlifter who won her second African Championship only six weeks ago faces an eight-year ban from the sport after testing positive for anabolic steroids for the second time.

Balikis Otunla, who was continental champion at 75 kilograms last year and 81kg in Cairo this year, was banned for two years from 2012 to 2014 after testing positive for nandrolone, and has now been provisionally suspended because her sample showed traces of metenolone.

Nigeria’s Balikis Otunla won the gold medal in the 81kg at this year’s African Championships in Cairo but now faces the prospect of being banned for eight-years after testing positive for the second time in her career

Otunla’s violation is the first announced by the International Weightlifting Federation since it signed the second part of an agreement with the International Testing Agency (ITA), which is taking over anti-doping procedures including in-and-out-of-competition testing, results management and athlete biological passport programme.

The Nigerian was very well placed to qualify for next year’s Olympics in Tokyo as her continent’s top-rated athlete outside the top eight automatic qualifiers.

Hers is the seventh Nigerian positive since 2010, all of them women.


Otunla’s former team-mate Elizabeth Onuah also tested positive twice and was banned for eight years in 2015.


Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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