Nigerian sprinter, Blessing Okagbare has been banned for 10 years for by the Disciplinary Tribunal of the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for multiple breaches of the Anti-Doping Rules, the AIU announced on Friday.
Okagbare, 33, was charged with two counts of offenses in July last year by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) which include: (i) “use of multiple (two) prohibited substances”, for which she had been provisionally suspended on 31 July 2021, the day on which she had been scheduled to participate in the semi-finals of the Tokyo 2020 women’s 100m, and (ii) for “refusal to co-operate with the AIU’s investigation into her case”.
On 7th October 2021, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) officially pressed charges against the 2008 Beijing Games silver medalist, who has since denied any wrongdoing.
A statement of the ruling by the Disciplinary Tribunal of the AIU date 18 February 2022, published by the AIU on Friday stated:
“The Disciplinary Tribunal has banned Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare for a total of 10 years, five years for the presence and use of multiple prohibited substances and five years for her refusal to co-operate with the AIU’s investigation into her case.”
Okagbare failed to attend the hearing of the charges against her, and judgement was pronounced in her absence which has been confirmed in the ruling.
“The sole arbitrator adjudicating the case concluded that the athlete’s use of multiple prohibited substances as part of an organised doping regimen in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympic Games was egregious conduct that amounted to aggravating circumstances under the Rules thereby warranting an additional period of ineligibility on top of the standard four-year sanction”, the ruling stated.
The AIU has welcomed the ruling by the Disciplinary Tribunal, describing it as a “strong message against intentional and co-ordinated attempts to cheat at the very highest level of our sport”.
“We welcome the decision of the Disciplinary Tribunal; a ban of 10-year is a strong message against intentional and co-ordinated attempts to cheat at the very highest level of our sport. 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,” said Brett Clothier, Head of the AIU.
Blessing Okabare has been given the right to appeal the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) within 30 days of the publication of this ruling.