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Athletics Integrity Unit hails Nigeria for anti-doping measures

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has commended Nigeria for the significant improvement seen in its fight against doping. Unlike the sad episode at the Tokyo Olympics where 10 out of the 23 registered Nigerian athletes got barred from competing, all 25 of the country’s athletes in Oregon have been given a clean bill of health to compete.

The barred athletes in Tokyo had failed to do the required number of Out-of-Competition tests which the AIU made compulsory for Category A federations like Nigeria which are deemed to have the highest doping risk and are considered a threat to the overall integrity of the sport.

“Thanks to significant improvements in most of their domestic testing programmes, those countries categorised as being the highest doping risk to the sport do not have any athletes declared not eligible for the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 for failing to meet minimum testing requirements as set out under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules (Anti- Doping Rules),” the AIU statement read in part.

Under the framework of Rule 15 governing National Federation Anti-Doping Obligations, which came into force in January 2019, National Federations are accountable for ensuring appropriate anti-doping measures are in place in their respective jurisdictions.

Among other things, the Rule sets out minimum requirements for testing on the national teams of ‘Category A’ federations.

“The key requirement in Rule 15 is that an athlete from a ‘Category A’ country must undergo at least three no-notice out-of-competition tests (urine and blood) conducted no less than 3 weeks apart in the 10 months leading up to a major event.

“Only then do they become eligible to represent their national team at the World Athletics Championships or the Olympic Games. For the year 2022, the seven identified ‘Category A’ National Federations are Belarus, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and Ukraine.

“While Nigeria did a paltry 26 tests in 2021, it has already conducted 157 this term, and the quantum improvement has been hailed even though it is admitted that even more can still be done to totally get rid of cheats in the sports.

“It is accepted now in our sport that National Federations must play their part in supporting anti-doping efforts,” said David Howman, Chair of the AIU Board.

The statement continued: “Therefore, it is very pleasing to see the significant improvements in most ‘Category A’ countries thanks to this rule.

“I particularly commend the Nigerian team. It is amazing what can be achieved when the domestic authorities start taking anti-doping seriously. While there have clearly been positive steps across the board, there is still many improvements that can be made in the application of this rule and we will continue to work with Category A Federations to do so,” he added.

In total, 156 athletes from six Category A countries were entered for the World Championships with Ethiopia leading the line with 46 athletes followed by Kenya with 41 while Nigeria has 25. Morocco, Ukraine, and Bahrain have 16, 22, and six athletes, respectively, in Oregon.

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