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Doping Ban: Okagbare Takes Appeal to CAS

Nigerian track star, Blessing Okagbare has vowed to head to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), to challenge the 10-year ban slammed on her over the weekend by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), for out of competition doping violations.

The sprinter’s counsel, Chinedu Udora disclosed this yesterday while speaking on THISDAYLIVE, an interview segment of Arise News Network.

Udora said Okagbare’s team would appeal the decision of the tribunal and is considering several options, in addition to looking at things they believed were not right.

He said some of the evidence used by AIU in handling a ban on 33- year- old Okagbare, who owns the Commonwealth Games record of 10.85 secs in the women’s 100m for use of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) were not right.

“There are evidences that even though went against us but that we feel that they were not properly evaluated. For instance, while we were in it, we had opportunity to call for, as you know, the deadline of all these charges went on scientific interpretation and evaluation. So at the onset, we set out to get a scientist to look at the charges to look at the test result because our client- Blessing Okagbare- maintained her innocence. So we had to look at it to see what is in the result. We reached out to several WADA Accredited labs to see if any assistance could come so that the result could be properly evaluated and interpreted,” Udora asserted.

He faulted the AIU for not looking at the result of other laboratories that were not from World Anti- Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratories.

He also accused the panel that looked at the expert evidence presented by Okagbare during the trial of not having the requisite expertise in that field and taking the evidence from only the WADA accredited lab.

“What I want to note here is that WADA accredited lab failing to assist an athlete that has been charged for anti-doping offence, for me, I think it is an implied denial of fair hearing,” Udora said.

Apart from incurring five-year ban for doing violation, AIU had also imposed an additional five-year sanction on Okagbare for her refusal to cooperate which AIU claimed it prevented it an opportunity to discover evidence of possible further rule violations by her as well as possible violations of the rules by others.

The Head of AIU, Brett Clothier, had in a statement said the decision of the Disciplinary Tribunal to hand the Nigerian athlete a 10- year ban was welcome as it would send a strong message against intentional and coordinated attempts to cheat at the very highest level of athletics.

“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,” Clothier said.

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