Michael Chukwuebuka, Reporting
Ace Nigerian sprinter, Blessing Okagbare, has been finally banned by Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for 10 years.
The 33-year-old, recall, was suspended for violating anti-doping rules and drug-related offences during last year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Okagbare has an Olympic silver medal in the long jump from the 2008 Beijing Games.
She was provisionally suspended before the 100 metres semi-finals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics last year.
An AIU statement said the sole arbitrator adjudicating the case concluded that Okagbare’s “use of multiple prohibited substances” was “part of an organised doping regimen in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympic Games.”
This “egregious conduct” led to an increase in the normal four-year sanction.
The Urhobo queen of the tracks, however, denied all charges.
She had earlier been given a five-year ban for returning doping tests positive for EPO as well as Human Growth Hormone.
She was then handed an additional five-year ban for refusing to co-operate with an AIU investigation.
“We welcome the decision of the Disciplinary Tribunal. A ban of 10 years is a strong message against intentional and coordinated attempts to cheat at the very highest level of our sport,” said AIU chief Brett Clothier.
“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 had consistently denied using drugs to spike her system at the Tokyo Olympic games.