David Howman, the Chairman of the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has recognised and commended the efforts of the Sports Ministry on its strict measures of checking doping amongst its athletes but call for improvement in application.
The AIU is the special unit created by the international athletics body, World Athletics to oversee all issues relating to doping control among its members.
The Ministry had insisted on stricter anti-doping measures and the increase in the number of testings by the National Anti-Doping Agency(NADA).
The country is placed in Category A which is the lowest ranking of Federations and the athletes from countries in this category must have at least three(3)Out of Competition Testings(OCTs), each test three(3)weeks apart within the ten(10)months leading to a major International event like the Olympic Games and the World Championships.
At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, ten out Nigeria’s twenty three athletes were barred from competing owing to their failure to meet this AIU requirement (Rule 15 of AIU framework)that came into force in January 2019.
However, all twenty five(25) Nigerian athletes registered for the ongoing 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, United States of America were cleared to participate having met the requirement.
Also, from a meagre twenty six(26) tests conducted on Nigerian athletes in 2021, one hundred and fifty seven(157)tests have already been done in 2022.
In commending Nigeria, Howman who is chairman of the AIU board said he was pleased to see significant improvements in the efforts to clean up the sport.
“I particularly commend the Nigerian team. It is amazing what can be achieved when the domestic authorities start taking anti- doping seriously.
“While there have clearly been positive steps across the board, there are still many improvements to be made in the application of the rule and we will continue to work with the Category A Federations to do so,” he added.
Sports Minister Sunday Dare who has been the driving force in the push to improve Nigeria’s anti doping status and image says the AIU’s commendation is a confirmation that the Ministry is doing something right.
“We cannot afford a repeat of the embarrassment we got in Tokyo where ten of our athletes were declared ineligible to compete on technical grounds as a result of the breach of the AIU rule. We had to be proactive and put stricter measures in place, not minding the attacks and snide comments from certain quarters.”
“This commendation shows we are doing the right thing. It will spur us on to continue to do all we can to improve our anti doping status and image,” Dare said