By Ijeoma Okigbo
A total of 10 Nigerians are part of 20 athletes declared ineligible to participate in the athletics events of the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of World Athletics, the sport’s world governing body, said in a statement on Monday that the athletes contravened Rule 15 of World Athletics’ Anti-Doping Rules.
The statement however did not contain the athletes’ names.
“The rule states that athletes from ‘Category A’ federations must meet the minimum testing requirements to confirm their eligibility to participate in a major event.
“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 3 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,” the statement noted.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria was included in Category A at the start of 2020, following a continued period of weak domestic testing levels.
The 10 athletes are part of the 23 Nigeria had earlier entered for the Tokyo Games, and with their being ineligible the rest 13 can be involved in the Games.
Meanwhile, David Bowman, Chairman of the AIU Board, urged national federations to put more efforts in support of anti-doping rules.
“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.
“I must underline that there have been significant improvements in anti-doping efforts in most ‘Category A’ countries, thanks to this rule.
“The relevant National Federations in conjunction with their National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADO) have started to take their testing responsibilities seriously.
“I thank them for their efforts, but there remains a long way to go in some circumstances.”
Aside Nigeria, athletes from Kenya, Bahrain, Belarus, Ethiopia, Morocco and Ukraine jointly make up the other 10 athletes who are said to be ineligible by the AIU.
The AIU is an independent body created by World Athletics for the management of all integrity issues —— both doping and non-doping —- for the sport of athletics.
Athletics competition of the 2020 Olympics is expected to begin on Friday in Tokyo.