30th July, 2021
Nigerian athletes have taken to the streets of Tokyo to protest after 10 of them were disqualified from taking part in the track and field events of the Olympic Games.
The protesting athletes carried placards with different inscriptions.
One of the placards read: “Why should we suffer for someone else’s negligence.”
Another said: “All we wanted to do was complete” and “We are not just alternates but potential medalists.”
The International Olympic Committee had on Wednesday disqualified Knowledge Omovoh, Ruth Usoro, Favor Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma, Glory Patrick, Yinka Ajayi, Tima Godbless, Chidi Okezie, Chioma Onyekwere, and Annette Echikunwoke.
The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), an independent body created by World Athletics that manages all integrity issues – both doping and non-doping – revealed that the athletes were disqualified because they didn’t meet the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15 for 10 athletes.
The AIU explained that 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 for 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.
For the year 2021, the seven identified ‘Category A’ National Federations are Belarus, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and Ukraine.
However, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, which has been plunged into needless crises in the last 14 months is, thus, highly culpable in this development.
Blessing Okagbare, one of the Nigerian athletes, had also come out to lash the Athletics Federation of Nigeria.
Okagbare said that the sport system in Nigeria is flawed and that athletes are always at the receiving end of the damages.