Breaking!  Blessing Okagbare gets 10-year ban 

Breaking!  Blessing Okagbare gets 10-year ban 
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Blessing Okagbare’s only Olympic medal came at Beijing 2008, when she won silver in the women’s long jump ©Getty Images

Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare has been given a ten-year ban from athletics for multiple anti-doping rule breaches by the Athletics Integrity Unit.

Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare has been given a ten-year ban from athletics for multiple anti-doping rule breaches by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

The AIU’s Disciplinary Tribunal banned the 33-year-old for five years for the use of multiple prohibited substances and a further five for refusing to cooperate with the organisation’s investigation.

Normally a four-year sanction is applied in such a case but the arbitrator concluded that Okagbare’s offending was part of an “organised doping regimen” in the build-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and warranted a longer period of ineligibility, meaning five years was given for the doping offences.

The arbitrator concluded that the AIU’s right to carry out investigations had been hampered by Okagbare’s refusal to cooperate, and imposed a further five-year ban for this, saying it had denied the organisation the opportunity of uncovering possible further rule breaches by her and by others.

Last month, the US Attorney Office for the Southern District of New York announced the filing of the first criminal charge under the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act against Texas-based therapist Eric Lira.

It was alleged that Lira obtained performance-enhancing drugs and distributed them to athletes in advance of, and for the purpose of cheating at, Tokyo 2020, with Okagbare named by the arbitrator has the athlete involved in the criminal complaint.

Head of the AIU Brett Clothier said: “We welcome the decision of the Disciplinary Tribunal – a ban of 10 years is a strong message against intentional and co-ordinated attempts to cheat at the very highest level of our sport.

“This is an outcome that was driven by our intelligence-led target testing as well as our commitment to investigate the circumstances behind a positive test.”

Okagbare has 30 days in which to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

In October 2021, the AIU also pressed charges against Okagbare on two separate disciplinary matters – one for the use of two banned substances – human growth hormone and recombinant erythropoietin, and secondly for refusing to co-operate with the AIU investigation into her case.

Okagbare won a silver medal in long jump at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and is also a double World Championship medallist – winning silver in the long jump and bronze in the 200 metres at Moscow in 2013.

-insidethegames

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