Nigerian sprint star and medal hopeful for Team Nigeria in the Tokyo Olympics, Blessing Okagbare has been suspended for doping Saturday, hours before she was due to run in the semifinals of the women’s 100 meters at the games.
According to the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) in a statement released on their website, Okagbare tested positive for human growth hormone in an out-of-competition test on July 19, four days before the Olympics opened, prompting a mandatory provisional suspension.
The AIU said results of that test were only received by track and field’s anti-doping body late Friday and after Okagbare had already run in the 100 heats on the opening day of track competition at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.
Recall The New Diplomat reported she won her heat in 11.05 seconds and was due to run in the semifinals on Saturday. The highly-anticipated women’s 100 final is the last event on the day’s track schedule.
The AIU informed Okagbare of her suspension on Saturday morning, it said, ruling her out of the 100 and likely ending her Olympics.
Under doping regulations, she is allowed to request that a “B” sample — or backup sample — is tested to double-check the results.
The 32-year-old Okagbare won a silver medal in the long jump at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and at the 2013 world championships.
She also collected a bronze in the 200 meters at the 2013 world Championship in Moscow behind gold medal winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who is the favorite for the 100 title in Tokyo. Okagbare did the 100-200 double at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Okagbare’s suspension came three days after the AIU announced that 10 track and field athletes from Nigeria were among a group of 20 from various countries who were disqualified from competing at the Olympics because they hadn’t met minimum doping test requirements. The AIU didn’t name any of those athletes.