The Athletics Integrity Unit has announced the six-year ban of Nigerian sprinter, Divine Oduduru, confirming Tuesday’s exclusive story by Bold Sports.
In a post of its website on Thursday evening, the AIU which is the World Athletics’ independent integrity arm, said Oduduru was banned for “committing two Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) of Possession of Prohibited Substances and the Attempted Use of a Prohibited Substance or Method”.
Oduduru was banned four years for the combined violation and an additional two years for Aggravating Circumstances (ADR 10.4). He was also asked to pay $3,000 towards the expenses of the case.
The AIU linked Oduduru to the case involving Blessing Okagabre, where the 2008 Olympics silver medalist was banned for 11 years after she tested positive to Human Growth Hormone. It was established that Oduduru was the second athlete Okagbare’s supplier Eric Lira was giving prohibited substances.
The statement read, “Divine Oduduru has been banned for six years by a three-member Disciplinary Tribunal for committing two Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) of Possession of Prohibited Substances and the Attempted Use of a Prohibited Substance or Method and ordered to pay World Athletics US$3000 towards its expenses regarding the case.
“The ban takes retroactive effect from 9 February 2023 – the date on which the Nigerian sprinter’s provisional suspension began – and runs until 8 February 2029, while all his results from July 12 2021 until the date of his provisional suspension have been disqualified.
“The case arose out of the criminal investigation into Eric Lira who earlier this year became the first person to plead guilty under the US Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act to providing performance enhancement drugs to Olympic athletes in advance of the Tokyo Olympic Games (Southern District of New York | First Defendant Charged.
“With Violating Anti-Doping Act Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court | United States Department of Justice). The initial complaint issued by the US Department of Justice against Lira in January 2022 made reference to two athletes, ‘Athlete1’ and ‘Athlete-2’. By comparing information from Blessing Okagbare’s doping cases, which resulted in a cumulative 11-year ban for her last year, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) concluded that ‘Athlete-1’ was Okagbare and, following an interview with her Nigerian teammate Oduduru, in May 2022, the AIU concluded that Oduduru was ‘Athlete-2’.”
It also further quoted Head of the AIU, Ben Clothier, as saying, “We are very pleased with the outcome of this matter, given its particularly grievous nature, exposing the sinister collusion between athletes and other persons in deliberate plans to corrupt athletics at the highest level.
“The AIU is fully committed to unearthing cheats and the extent of their networks. In our quest to protect the integrity of athletics, we often work closely with other investigative organisations. On this occasion, we are grateful for the assistance from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and United States Department of Justice whose legal reach provided vital evidence which helped in this matter as well as in our case against Blessing Okagbare last year.”
“Oduduru, who turned 27 on 7 October, maintained his innocence despite overwhelming evidence against him. At the core of the AIU’s case were Whatsapp messages between Okagbare and Lira, which revealed Okagbare soliciting Prohibited Substances on Oduduru’s behalf, and photographic evidence of multiple.”
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