The seven-member committee set up by Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, to investigate the circumstances leading to the suspension of 10 Nigerian athletes from participating at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, has assured that they would complete their job before the one month deadline.
World Athletics stopped 10 Nigerian track and field athletes from competing at the Tokyo Games because they did not undertake their three out-of-competition tests as required by the doping law.
The panel is headed by Professor Ken Anugweje. It has a former secretary general of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Mrs. Maria Worphil, as its secretary.
At the weekend, Worphil disclosed that the panel held its first meeting on September 2 and the second six days later.
“We are at the stage of in-person interaction and should conclude before the deadline given in our letter of appointment,” Worphil said.
The panel, as part of its terms of reference, will ascertain the roles and responsibilities of the National Anti-doping Commission, the AFN, the Federation of Elite Athletes Development, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) and the affected athletes in the testing process.
It is also expected to examine the impact of the crisis that engulfed the AFN soon after the inauguration of the last board, headed by Shehu Ibrahim Gusau in July 2017, on the testing process and normal administrative processes.
The panel will also proffer solutions that will prevent a reoccurrence and recommend sanctions and compensations as appropriate.
Prior to the Tokyo Olympic Games, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) categorised Nigeria as a high risk doping nation following the AFN’s consistent failure to tidy its anti-doping processes and non-compliance with relevant World Athletics anti-doping rules and processes.
Until last month, the AFN did not have an anti-doping committee or commission or an anti-doping officer in the four-year tenure of the last board, while the president allegedly took over the jobs of the secretary general as enshrined in the federation’s constitution (2017) for more than half of the board’s four-year tenure. He allegedly changed the password of AFN’s official email used to correspond with both the AIU and World Athletics.