Nigerian sprinter, Blessing Okagbare has been banned for 10 years by the Disciplinary Tribunal of the Athletics Integrity Unit.
This was contained in a statement by the AIU, made available to Bold Sports on Friday.
According to the AIU, the 33-year-old was banned for five years for the use of multiple prohibited substances, while she was also slammed with another five-year ban for failing to co-operate with the AIU’s investigation.
“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,” part of the statement read.
Okagbare had been provisionally suspended by the AIU during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics last year over the presence of Human Growth Hormone in her blood sample taken.
“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 sole arbitrator also recognised the AIU’s right to carry out investigations, including the imaging of electronic devices, and to impose sanctions when an athlete refuses to co-operate with an investigation and thereby frustrates the AIU’s ability to fulfil its mandate to protect the integrity of the sport of athletics.
In this instance, the sole arbitrator concluded that the athlete’s refusal to cooperate had denied the AIU the opportunity to discover evidence of possible further rule violations by her as well possible violations of the rules by others, for which he imposed an additional sanction of five years,” the AIU added.
Head of AIU, Brett Clothier, who welcomed the 10-year ban, said it sends a strong message against cheating at the highest level.
“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,” Clothier said.
Okagbare, according to the AIU has 30 days to appeal the ban at the Court of Arbitration for sports.
Read the full judgement HERE