A band of Nigerian athletes disqualified from competing at the ongoing Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan have come out with a detailed explanation of reasons behind their actions on Friday, as they took their grievances into a public protest on the streets of the Asian country.
Megasportsarena.com reports that the protest came few hours after 10 of the country’s athletes were disqualified from taking part in the Games due to their failure to receive mandatory three out-of-competition tests expected of athletes taking part in a competition of this magnitude.
The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) ruled that a total of 20 competitors, including 10 from Nigeria, are not eligible to take part in the Games because of non-compliance with out-of-competition drug testing requirements under Rule 15 for athletes.
Rather than take full responsibility for their failings, the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) kept mum on the matter, while the sports ministry allegedly tagged them ‘alternate and foreign students athletes, whose tests did not meet with sample collection and analysis standards.’
That tag did not go down well with the affected athletes, who then staged a protest to register their displeasure and condemned laxity on the part of the country’s bodies that are saddled with ensuring that Nigeria’s competitors undergo tests as prescribed by the World Athletics rules.
The AIU explained that under the framework of Rule 15 governing National Federation Anti-Doping Obligations, which came into force in January 2019, 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.
Those affected in Nigeria’s team were Knowledge Omovoh, Ruth Usoro, Favor Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma, Glory Patrick, Yinka Ajayi, Tima Godbless, Chidi Okezie, Chioma Onyekwere, and Annette Echikunwoke, following which Nigeria’s top female sprinter, Blessing Okagbare took to social media to slam the authorities.
Okagbare said that the sport system in Nigeria is flawed and that athletes are always at the receiving end of the damages, following which her words must have inspired the affected athletes to take to the streets of Tokyo in protest.
During Friday’s protest, the athletes carried various placards with inscriptions such as ‘We are not just alternate but are potential medalists,’ ‘All we wanted to do is to compete,’ ‘Why should we suffer for someone else’s negligence?’ etc.