The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) is concerned about the recent developments in the case of Blessing Okagbare, who is accused of using illegal drugs.
Okagbare was suspended just before her semifinal race at the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for a human growth hormone during an out-of-competition test on July 19. She has been charged with three offenses by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).
The 32-year-old was later found to have tested positive for recombinant erythropoietin (EPO), a prohibited drug that boosts red blood cell count. She’s also been charged with obstructing the investigation of the AIU.
Speaking with reporters, an official of the AFN raised the concern that Okagbare might end up in jail because of the way the issue is going.
“I am really worried by the new dimension Okagbare’s drug issue is taking,” the AFN official, who pleaded anonymity, said. “If care is not taken, she might end up in jail because to test positive to EPO is a serious offence as far as athletics is concerned. The EPO is a type of drug given to horses while preparing them for the race. I learnt she is not even cooperating with the AIU.
“I am sure Okagbare must have stepped on many toes in the past due to her ego problem, and those people may have been patiently waiting for this opportunity to pay her back.
“ If the AIU decides to take the investigation backward and find her culpable, Okagbare might be stripped of some of her medals. My advice to her is to cooperate with the investigation,” the AFN official said.
The AIU had alleged that Okagbare “failed to comply with a formal requirement to produce relevant documents, records, and electronic storage devices” to the investigation.
Okagbare, a silver medalist in the long jump at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, had won her 100m heat in Tokyo before being suspended from the Games.