By Jacob Ajom
Against the backdrop of a groundswell of criticisms that trailed Blessing Okagbare’s aborted Tokyo 2020 Olympics campaign, following the pronouncement by Athletics Integrity Unit that she tested positive for a banned substance, human growth hormone, former British and Commonwealth Light heavyweight champion, Peter Oboh is calling on Nigerians not to crucify her.
Reacting to the incident, Oboh said, the athlete may have fallen victim to the usual urge in athletes, particularly, elite athletes who compete at the highest level to achieve greatness in their chosen sport.
“Every athlete wants to be a champion, particularly after putting in so many years, the temptation is always there to achieve greatness, fame, and wealth,” he said, adding, “it has always been there and mark my words, she may not be alone. It is only when a thief is caught that he is called a thief. Blessing cannot be the only one.”
He counseled Nigerians “to sympathize with her at this difficult time of her career which, until now, had been drug-free.”
The former WBA Intercontinental champion praised the Minister of Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare for his prompt intervention that stemmed the crisis in the Team Nigeria camp in Tokyo. “For the athletes not allowed to compete, I would advise they take it in good faith. The next Olympics is just three years away. They should rather put in more effort for the coming Olympics than expend their energies in attacking officials because it won’t change anything.
“If you miss Tokyo Olympics, Paris 2024 is around the corner. By then they would be more mature and polished athletes and they could become better medal prospects then. God’s time, they say, is the best.”
Oboh also had some advice for the anti-doping agency. He suggested that rather than emphasize on cheating, World Athletics should educate budding athletes on the long-term effects of using drugs.
“Most former Olympic champions, some with multiple gold medals in Russia and defunct East Germany are no longer alive today because of the effects of drugs. When one indulges in drugs and one is no longer active, the body is in trouble as the hormones keep developing in an idle body. That spells doom for the host body,” he said.