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AIU provisionally suspends Divine Oduduru for doping, faces 6-year ban

AIU provisionally suspends Divine Oduduru for doping, faces 6-year ban

The Athletics Integrity Unit has provisionally suspended Nigeria sprinter Divine Oduduru for anti-doping violation.

AIU announced Oduduru’s suspension in a statement on its website on Thursday.

According to the AIU, the 26-year-old was provisionally suspended for possession and/or use or attempted use of multiple Prohibited Substances.

“The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has notified Divine Oduduru of two potential Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) and is seeking a six-year ban against the Nigerian.

“The sprinter has been notified of potential ADRVs for possession (Rule 2.6 of the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules; ADR) and/or use or attempted use of multiple Prohibited Substances (Rule 2.2 ADR). He has been provisionally suspended immediately,” part of the statement read.

The AIU said Oduduru was the second athlete discovered to have been supplied performance enhancing drugs by US-based “naturopathic” therapist Eric Lira in 2021, the first being Blessing Okagbare who was banned 10 years and later 11 years by the AIU for doping.

It added that this was confirmed following information gotten by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from text conversations from Okagbare’s phone and AIU investigation.

“These alleged violations stem from an AIU investigation based on information in a criminal charge brought against US-based “naturopathic” therapist Eric Lira, on 12 January, 2022, by the United States Department of Justice under the Rodchenkov Act.

“Lira is alleged to have supplied performance enhancing drugs to athletes before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (delayed until summer 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic). The complaint against Lira provides specific information regarding persons identified as ‘Athlete 1’ and ‘Athlete 2’. In February 2022, a sole arbitrator of the AIU Disciplinary Tribunal concluded that they were “comfortably satisfied” that ‘Athlete 1’ was Oduduru’s team-mate, Blessing Okagbare, and banned her from the sport for ten years which was increased to an 11-year ban in June 2022 following further charges brought by the AIU.

“Based on the information in the complaint, including text conversations imaged from Okagbare’s mobile phone by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and further evidence obtained from the AIU investigation, the AIU alleges that Oduduru is ‘Athlete 2’ identified in the complaint,” the statement added.

The three-time NCAA champion last competed at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where he placed third in the semi-final of the men’s 200m event on August 3.

He had earlier had a torrid start to the Olympics after he was disqualified in the men’s 100m heats for false start.

His plans of returning to action at National Sports Festival held last December was unsuccessful as he pulled out injured just before the 200m heat.

Oduduru is the third Nigerian athlete suspended for doping in recent years after Grace Nwokocha was also provisionally suspended by the AIU for “Presence/Use of Prohibited Substances (Ostarine & Ligandrol) (Article 2.1 and Article 2.2)” September last year.

Nwokocha was part of the Nigerian women’s 4x100m quartet that won gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

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