Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare handed 10-year doping ban for ‘multiple breaches’

Nigerian track-and-field athlete Blessing Okagbare has been hit with a 10-year ban for "multiple breaches of anti-doping rules".

The 33-year-old competes in long jump and sprinting and was initially suspended during the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for a human growth hormone following an out-of-competition test on July 19 last year.

In addition, Okagbare tested positive for blood booster EPO, another banned drug, in Nigeria in June last year, and was also charged with failing to co-operate with an Athletics Integrity Unit investigation.

She has now been banned from the sport for ten years, with the AIU imposing a five-year ban for the "presence and use of multiple prohibited substances" and another five years for her refusal to co-operate.

In a statement, Brett Clothier, the head of the AIU, said: "We welcome the decision of the disciplinary tribunal; a ban of 10 years 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."

Victor Burgos, the United States Anti-Doping Agency's chief investigative officer, wrote to the AIU in October and revealed that the FBI had done imaging on Okagbare's mobile phone.

Burgos wrote: "I am aware that Ms. Okagbare's mobile device contained text messages in which Ms. Okagbare discusses procuring and using human growth hormone and EPO.

"The messages also indicate that Ms Okagbare procured, or attempted to procure, prohibited substances for at least one other person, an athlete preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Track and Field Trials, scheduled for July 2021."

At the time of her initial suspension in July last year, Okagbare was viewed as a potential medal contender in the women's 100m, having won her heat with a time of 11.05.

She won a silver medal in the women's long jump at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, having been upgraded from a bronze medal after Russian athlete Tatyana Lebedeva tested positive for turinabol and was disqualified.

Okagbare also won two medals at the 2013 World Championships, silver in the women's long jump and bronze in women's 200m.

Okagbare now has 30 days to appeal against the AIU's disciplinary tribunal verdict at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

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