Abuja — Just when the country thought it had seen the last of drug cheats in sports, yesterday came the bombshell that five Nigerians have been caught in the web of investigations into the use of illegal substances.
It was a stunned audience at the National Sports Commission (NSC) Abuja, who heard how five athletes from the country's contingent to last year's African Games in Congo returned positive to performance-enhancing drugs.
The athletes, including Deborah Odeyemi, Chinazo Amadi, Samson Idiata (athletics), Sunday Eze (para-athletics) and powerlifter, Thomas Kure, have been banned from taking part in any sporting activity for a period of four years.
Nigeria also faces the prospect of losing the medals the shamed athletes won for the country at the African Games.
Aside the games, The Guardian also gathered that two others also tested positive at the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) Championships in Warri, Delta State.
Confirming the development when members of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) visited him in his office in Abuja, Youth and Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, said, "It is true that some Nigerian athletes tested positive to banned substances at the last African Games.
"About five medals have been threatened because of the development and that takes us to why we are meeting here with the NOC. We still want to intensify our advocacy on anti-doping. The issue of doping is not always as we say it. Sometimes it could be from the food the athlete has taken or some drugs they took without knowing the implications before the event. So, what we are planning to do is to try to improve on our advocacy on anti doping."
After the African Games held in September, the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) had complained about the standard of the drug testing controls put in place in Congo, casting doubts into the performances and hundreds of medals won by athletes.
WADA alleged then that two Nigerian weightlifters were silently expelled from the games village, following concerns raised by the doping control team.C
Meanwhile, Dalung has denied reports that the Federal Government has scrapped the National Sports Commission (NSC), which has been formally merged with the Ministry of Youth Development.
The Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government on assumption of office merged some ministries and parastatals in line with the recommendations of the Steve Orosanye committee set up by former President Goodluck Jonathan
But Dalung admitted that the Federal Government has set up a committee to look at ways of making sports administration more effective.
He said the report of the committee has not been made public, adding, "once it is scrapped, we will announce it. But since it has not been done, we should not speculate.
"But I think this is originating from the misconception of what becomes of the commission following its merger with the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development."