By Ben Efe
Nigerian athletes are earning a doping reputation for themselves in the international athletics circles. Within a year more than seven athletes have tested positive to banned drugs at world meets. More than anything else, this has brought disgrace to a country battling hard to redeem its international image.
There is no questioning the fact that doping in sport is a global phenomenon, but while other countries are taking steps to curtail the usage of drugs among their athletes, the case is not so in Nigerian sports.
At the last Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India Nigeria won a record 12 gold medal, but this achievement was tarnished by doping cases involving top athletes like Damola Osayomi, Sade Abughan and 110m hurdler Samuel Okon. Osayomi was stripped off her 100m women gold, while Abughan was stripped of the two silver she won in the women 400m flat and relay.
At the World Champi-onships in Berlin 2009, four Nigeria athletes tested positive to banned drugs, they include Amaka Ogoebgulam, Gloria Kemesode, Toyin Augustus and Vivian Chukwuemeka who hotly contested the veracity of the test conducted by the doping officials engaged by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria.
Earlier in the year, Marian Adedun and Durotoye Adetuyi were suspended by the world athletics ruling body IAAF for testing positive to banned steriods.
These cases are just a tip of the iceberg. Nigerian athletes practically abuse drugs and sadly enough is not being done by the AFN to educate these athletes on the effects of doping.
Moreso the process of collating the samples of the athletes have been corrupt by the doping officials. For a token paid by the athletes these officials are ready to compromise the dope testing process.
Further more, the National Sports Commission has not deemed it fit to complete the doping laboratory promised during the 2003 All African Games. Investigation revealed that funds were approved for the project, but laboratory never saw the light of the day.
This has made the testing of the athletes extremely expensive for the AFN. And so at most times not all the athletes are tested.
“There is a lot of corruption in the doping of Nigerian athletes. This is why so many of them go undetected to the international scene and get caught.
“This was what Vivian was trying to bring to light when she was involved in a dope case. With N10,000 athletes who are caught are let off the by the doping officials,” said Rashid Balogun a former athlete and lawyer.
He said that the sports ministry should take this development in athletics very seriously otherwise there will be more embarrassment.
“ What I really think ought to be done is to do unannounced testing with WADA and engage their officials to come to Nigeria at about the same time to collect samples and send them to WADA HQ in Quebec.
“After that any clean athlete will be welcome to remain on the team and others sent packing. By the way the athletes we have now are not on any serious standard and we need to focus on new ones starting now towards 2012 and beyond,” said Canada-based Balogun.