Bizarre! Scared that they would not be able to measure up to the standards set for them not only to develop but also to earn money at the Golden League, Nigerian athletes staged a protest in the Benin on Saturday and opted out, hoping that the the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) would lower the standards for them.
Top athletes now easily run sub 10 seconds in the 100m. But AFN set 10.49 seconds as their standard and the athletes protested.
It was a show of shame for which the AFN acted promptly. They have suspended three athletes for instigating the boycott. They will no longer compete in their events for the next three years.
The three athletes are: Saheed Osanyande, Afeez Imama and Lekan Soetan.
The federation said the three had instigated a boycott of the 2nd Golden League by some athletes. The event was staged at the University of Benin Sports Complex at the weekend. AFN also suspended the Golden League, a money spinning event for the athletes.
The Technical Director of AFN, Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama, said in Lagos that the athletes' behavior was 'unruly'.
"The three athletes that instigated the boycott of the event have been suspended from participating in AFN-organised activities for three years," he said.
Nesiama noted that the suspension was invoked because they had also demanded that AFN review downwards the standard of the competition, in order to extend award of prizes to the top eight in each Golden League event.
"This is totally unacceptable to the federation," he said.
Nesiama said that based on the current development, the Board would channel available funds into its developmental programmes toward promoting the youths and the juniors.
"Rather than spend money on unruly athletes like these, we will rather develop our youths and junior athletes because they have a brighter future.
"I will prefer that we spend money on our developmental programmes, rather than spend money on athletes that want to remain as local champions," Nesiama said.
He said that the federation would not condone any acts of indiscipline, saying no athlete was forced to participate in the Golden League.
"The demand is an indication that they are not serious and probably do not have the national interest at heart but just personal interest.
"We have chosen to do something different from what we were doing in the past, in order to get better results, " he said.
"The unruly athletes do not know what it takes to put together a Meet of that magnitude, in terms of raising finances and other ancillary structures," he said.
"There is nowhere in the world that athletes dictate to Meet organisers the conditions on which the meet should be run," he said.