Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare out of Olympics after failing drugs test

The 32-year-old is out of Saturday's 100m semi-finals, while a Kenyan male also tests positive for banned substance

Nigerian sprinter and 2008 Olympics long jump silver medallist Blessing Okagbare's Tokyo Games ended abruptly on Saturday as she was provisionally suspended following a positive test for human growth hormone.

The 32-year-old, who has also won world championship medals in the 200m and the long jump and is competing in her fourth Olympics, had comfortably won her 100m heat in Tokyo on Friday with a time of 11.05 seconds, qualifying for Saturday's semi-final.

An unnamed Kenyan male sprinter has also tested positive for a banned substance, Team Kenya said in a statement, and he will be provisionally suspended and will not take part in qualifiers on Saturday.

Okagbare was also due to compete in the 200m as well as the 4x100m relay.

"We have received communication this afternoon from International Testing Agency (ITA) regarding one of our sprinters who has had an Adverse analytical finding on a urine sample he provided on 28 July 2021," said Waithaka Kioni, Team Kenya's Head of Delegation.

"He remains provisionally suspended from participating in his event today. The sprinter is fully aware of this communication and is in receipt of the letter from ITA." (Reporting by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

"The athlete was notified of the adverse analytical finding and of her provisional suspension this morning in Tokyo," the Athletics Integrity Unit said in a statement.

The unit said she tested positive in an out-of-competition test on July 19 and was informed of her suspension on Saturday, the day Okagbare was due to race against Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith in their semi-final in Tokyo.

It's the latest blow for Nigeria's athletics team after 10 track and field athletes were ruled as ineligible for the Tokyo Games three days ago for failing to meet minimum testing requirements.

On the list of banned substances, human growth hormone reduces body fat, increases muscle mass and strength and helps in recovery, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The Nigerian Olympic Committee did not comment on the matter.

Okagbare's silver medal from the Beijing Games was a result of her being upgraded in 2017 after the International Olympic Committee disqualified Russian athlete Tatyana Lebedeva due to a doping offence. She had originally finished third in that long jump competition. She also holds the Commonwealth Games record in the women’s 100m, set in Glasgow in 2014.

Updated: July 31st 2021, 9:36 AM
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