Doping: Okagbare should have known better as she lives in US — Ajunwa

Nigeria’s first female gold medallist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics Chioma Ajunwa-Opara says Blessing Okagbare should have known better than doping as she lives in the United States.

Ajunwa-Opara spoke with NAN on the heels of the 10-year ban handed to Okagbare by World Athletics for doping.

The Athletics Integrity Unit had suspended the 2008 long jump silver medallist from the women’s 100m semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics last year after testing positive for human growth hormone at an out-of-competition test in Slovakia on July 19.

Ajunwa-Opara, who had suffered a similar fate, called on athletes to stop cutting corners, but rather face the reality of intense competition for world titles.

“The ban will definitely affect her (Okagbare’s) career, maybe her career in athletics is over. I believe AFN (Athletics Federation of Nigeria) can give her the support she needs.

“For Okagbare, who lives in the US, she should not be caught in this web, because it is believed that she has all the information she needed, and was more exposed.

“Okagbare should have a better knowledge than those living in Nigeria; besides this, we have something to do here at home and not pass the whole blame,” she said.

Ajunwa-Opara said since her own experience on doping, she had established a foundation that gives sensitisation on doping.

She also called on World Athletics to fix the problem of doping once and for all by reverting to the system of paying all athletes, not just the top three.