By EDDIE PELLS
AP National Writer
Sprinter Blessing Okagbare’s doping violations will keep her Nigerian teammates from participating in the 4×100 meter relay at next month’s world championships.
The Athletics Integrity Unit, which oversees doping cases in track, announced Monday it was extending Okagbare’s 10-year ban by a year, and making it retroactive to June 13, 2021. That’s six days before she competed at Nigeria’s Olympic trials, with her relay squad qualifying for this year’s worlds.
“Over the years, we have repeatedly seen how one person’s actions adversely affect teammates who have trained hard and worked honestly for their results,” AIU head Brett Clothier said in a news release.
The former world champion originally received her 10-year ban in February for being part of an organized doping regimen in preparation for last year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Okagbare tested positive for blood booster EPO in Nigeria in June 2021, in addition to another failed test for human growth hormone in Slovakia in July 2021. She was provisionally banned from Tokyo only hours before she was set to race in the 100-meter semifinals.
In February, AIU handed down a ban of five years for the presence and use of multiple prohibited substances and doubled that penalty for her refusal to cooperate with the investigation.
Evidence for the case had been revealed a month earlier as part of a criminal case brought against U.S. “naturopathic” therapist Eric Lira by the U.S. government under the Rodchenkov Act. That law was passed to go after people and organizations that fund and promote doping schemes.
Okagbare won a bronze medal in the long jump at the Beijing Games in 2008, a medal that was later upgraded to silver when the Russian jumper who finished ahead of her was penalized for doping.
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