The Minister of Youth and Sports development, Sunday Dare says he has ordered full investigation into the cause of disqualification of Team Nigeria athletes at the just-concluded Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Team Nigeria, who finished 75th on the medals table comprising of 205 nations, saw no fewer than 10 Nigerian athletes disqualified from athletics events.
The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday 28 July handed disqualification to the athletes on the grounds that did not complete the mandatory Out of Competition tests before the Games.
The disqualified athletes would later hit the streets of Tokyo to protest their ordeal, also fingering the administration of the Athletics For of Nigeria (AFN) for not making athletes their priority.
In a statement released by the Sports Ministry after the conclusion of the Games last Sunday, Minister Dare said he had been silent over the matter in order to avoid distractions.
He also went on to say he was taking the blame for the situation and has ordered a probe into the cause of the chaos.
“As the Minister I must bear some institutional responsibility for this lapse,” said Dare.
“I also had to depend and expect that each person in the long and often technical chain will perform their role expeditiously and with precision. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line someone failed in their responsibility and as Minister I bear the responsibility and brunt of criticsm. But that is not enough.
“I must move to ensure that Nigeria never experiences another such moment. I have ordered a full investigation that will not only uncover what happened, but will also, recommend a process where such lapses can never occur in the future and initiate leveraging compliance monitoring technology to guardrail this.
“I have personally apologized to the affected athletes. Here and now, I personally apologize to all Nigerians for this ineligibility episode. The AFN has also taken responsibility and apologized to the athletes and to Nigerians.
“Already, a new Medical and Anti-Doping Commission has been set up to establish a fool proof system of testing and ensure Nigeria exits the A Categorization by WADA.”
Meanwhile, top sprinter, Blessing Okagbare who was among the 12 Athletics athletes cleared as eligible to participate was surprisingly disqualified after a test she carried out prior to the Games came out positive for a banned substance.
Okagbare had raced into the semifinal of the women’s 100m race before she was suspended by the AIU.
“Blessing Okagbare remains one of our best athletes who has served Nigeria well. We emphatize with her. Nigeria will monitor closely developments around her temporary suspension and appeal,” added the Minister.
Nigeria won two medals from the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympics – a silver medal by Blessing Oborodudu in women’s 68kg wrestling and a bronze medal by Ese Brume in women’s Long Jump event.
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