10 out of Nigeria’s 23 track and field athletes have been forced to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympic Games because they did not meet the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15 of the Anti-Doping Rules. In other words, the athletes did not receive the minimum amount of out-of-competition testing leading up to the Games in order to compete.
According to Nigerian news outlet, channelstv.com, the athletes are blaming their disqualification on negligence by their country’s sport administrators, and have taken to the streets in Tokyo to protest the decision to disqualify them from competition. The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has taken responsibility for the lapses, but it will not be enough to have the affected athletes reinstated.
The disqualified athletes are now protesting with signs that read “why should we suffer because of someone else’s negligence?” and “all we wanted to do was compete.” Eight athletes from other countries were also disqualified for the same reason. To clarify, none of the athletes involved were taken out of competition because of doping violations or missed tests, but rather because their country’s governing body responsible for testing athletes failed to test them enough times before the Games.
Prior to the Olympics, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the independent body created by World Athletics to manages all integrity issues, identified Nigeria’s federation as “Category A” after a continued period of weak domestic testing levels. Other category A countries include Belarus, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and Ukraine. One Nigerian athlete, sprinter and long jumper Blessing Okagbare, has been disqualified for failing a drug test on Saturday.
By Brittany Hambleton
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