Nigerian sprinter Okagbare facing 3 charges in doping case

MONACO (AP) — Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare is facing three charges in a doping case which surfaced in dramatic circumstances when she was barred from running in the Olympic 100-meter semifinals hours before the race.

The Athletics Integrity Unit revealed on Thursday that Okagbare tested positive for blood booster EPO in Nigeria in June, in addition to another failed test for human growth hormone in Slovakia in July, which was announced during the Olympics.

Okagbare was also charged with failing to cooperate with the investigation after she disobeyed an order to produce “documents, records and electronic storage devices” in relation to the other charges, the AIU said.

She has not commented on the charges, but the AIU said she denies all charges and has requested a disciplinary hearing.

Okagbare had won her 100 heat at the Tokyo Olympics when the AIU told her she was provisionally suspended over the test for human growth hormone. During the Olympics, she criticized Nigerian sports officials after other athletes from the country were blocked from the Games because they hadn’t undergone enough drug testing in the months before. Officials were “forgetting their major responsibility ‘THE ATHLETES’,” she wrote on Twitter.

Three days before her EPO positive in June, Okagbare ran the 100 in a personal-best 10.63 seconds at the Nigerian championships, just 0.02 seconds slower than the eventual winning time for Olympic gold medalist Elaine Thompson-Herah. World Athletics records don’t consider Okagbare’s time official because of a substantial tailwind.

Okagbare won the bronze medal in the long jump at the 2008 Olympics. That was later upgraded to a silver medal when a Russian athlete was banned for doping. At the 2013 world championships, she doubled up with long jump silver and 200-meter bronze. Okagbare also won the 100 and the 200 at the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

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