This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Don't Go Near Drugs in London, FG Warns Athletes

Nigerian athletes heading for this summer Olympic Games in London have been advised to stay away from performance enhancing drugs that may tarnish the country's image.

President Goodluck Jonathan gave this advice at the official handing over of Team Nigerian contingent to the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), Thursday in Lagos.

The president, who was represented by Minister of Sports/ Chairman of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, warned the London-bound athletes and officials that the Federal Government will not accept medals won through dubious means.

"Don't go near drugs. We (FG) do not want medals won with drugs," stressed the Minister at the well attended event at the Lagos Sheraton and Towers in Ikeja.

Abdullahi commended Team Nigeria's track & field squad that just returned as overall winner of the 18th African Senior Athletics Championships in Port Novo, Benin Republic.

"It is sad that some people take the non qualification of our football teams for the Olympic as reason why sport is not doing well in the country whereas, other sports are making the country proud like athletics has just returned as overall winner," observed the minister.

While calling for the involvement of the private sector in the funding of sport, he hinted of how Great Britain has invested three hundred million pounds (about N62 billion) on its contingent for the London 2012.

"This is why those saddled with the British Olympic team can afford to boast that if they win anything less than 40 gold medals, they have not done the country proud. They are expecting most of their medals to come from cycling and not football even as they have one of the best teams to the Games. Even if they win football, that is just one medal. This is why most countries are paying more attention to other sports. Australia can afford to talk of winning many medals from swimming alone," reasoned the former Youth Development Minister. He urged Nigerians to de-emphasise the premium on football as Team Nigeria heads for London.

President of the NOC, Sani Ndanusa, who received the Team Nigeria contingent of 41 athletes from the Federal Government, promised to take good care of the country's representatives at the London 2012 Games.

The former sports minister similarly warned the athletes to stay away from drug that could endanger their chances at the Games.

"The medical team should also take proactive steps in monitoring the athletes, especially as it relates to their nutrition and medications, if need be," stressed the NOC president.

Nigeria is to be represented at the London 2012 by 30 athletes in track and field, three boxers, one in canoe /kayak, four in table tennis, two in taekwondo, four wrestlers and two weightlifters. The basketball team is still struggling at the Olympic qualifier currently going on in Venezuela. The team is expected to depart Lagos for Surrey, England where the athletes will train further till the Olympic Village is officially opened for the Games.

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