The chances of Nigeria winning medals at the Tokyo Olympics has been dealt a big blow with the declaration of 10 of the country’s athletes as ineligible to compete.
A statement on Wednesday from the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), an independent body created by World Athletics that manages all integrity issues – both doping and non-doping – revealed that a total of 18 athletes have been declared ineligible.
Nigeria is the most affected country, not meeting the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15 for 10 athletes.
The AIU explained that 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 for the national teams of ‘Category A’ federations deemed to have the highest doping risk and considered as a threat to the overall integrity of the sport.
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 three 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 2021, the seven identified ‘Category A’ National Federations are Belarus, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and Ukraine.
The Athletics Federation of Nigeria, which has been plunged into needless crises in the last 14 months is, thus, highly culpable in this development.
“National Federations must play their part in supporting anti-doping efforts. The eligibility rules for athletes from ‘Category A’ countries are very clear and compliance is essential for cementing the required long-term changes and ensuring a level playing field for clean athletes,” said David Howman, Chair of the AIU Board.
“I must underline that there have been significant improvements in anti-doping efforts in most ‘Category A’ countries thanks to this rule. It is clear that the relevant National Federations in conjunction with their NADOs have started to take their testing responsibilities seriously, and I thank them for their efforts, but there remains a long way to go in some circumstances,” he added.
Nigeria was included in Category A at the start of 2020 following a continued period of weak domestic testing levels.