Nigerian sprinter Okagbare out of Tokyo Games after failing drugs test

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TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 30: Blessing Okagbare of Team Nigeria competes during round one of the Women's 100m heats on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images/VCG)
TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 30: Blessing Okagbare of Team Nigeria competes during round one of the Women’s 100m heats on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images/VCG)

Nigerian sprinter and 2008 Olympics long jump silver medallist Blessing Okagbare’s Tokyo Games ended abruptly on Saturday morning after she was provisionally suspended following a positive test for human growth hormone, the Athletics Integrity Unit said in a statement.

The 32-year-old, who has also won world championship medals in the 200m and the long jump and is competing in her fourth Olympics, had comfortably won her 100m heat in Tokyo on Friday with a time of 11.05 seconds, qualifying for Saturday’s semi-final.

She was also due to compete in the 200m as well as the 4X100m relay.

“The athlete was notified of the adverse analytical finding and of her provisional suspension this morning in Tokyo,” the AIU said.

The unit said she tested positive in an out-of-competition test on July 19 and was informed of her suspension on Saturday.

This is the latest blow for Nigeria’s athletics team after 10 track and field athletes were ruled ineligible for the Tokyo Games three days ago for failing to meet minimum testing requirements.

On the list of banned substances, human growth hormone reduces body fat, increases muscle mass and strength and helps in recovery, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

When contacted by Reuters, the Nigerian Olympic Committee did not comment on the matter.

Okagbare’s silver medal from the Beijing Games was a result of her being upgraded in 2017 after the International Olympic Committee disqualified Russian athlete Tatyana Lebedeva due to a doping offence. She had originally finished third in that long jump competition.

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