Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has taken full responsibility as it concerns the 10 Nigerian Athletes who were banned from participating at the just concluded Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The Athletics Integrity Unit banned the Athletes on July 28th, 2021, after failing to meet the requirements under Rule 15 of the World Athletics Anti-doping Rule.
The minister said in a statement on Tuesday, August 10th, 2021, that was made available on Punch’s website. He took responsibility for the disqualification of the Athletes, and he also spoke about the steps his ministry took to appeal the ban.
He spoke about starting a full investigation into what really happened and will ensure that such a mistake doesn’t happen at the next Olympics or in subsequent events.
First is the mishap resulting in 10 Team Nigeria athletes’ rules ineligible to compete for missing their mandatory out-of-competition tests. When notice of ruling got to me, I immediately mobilised my team and the Athletics Federation of Nigeria leadership to see how the situation could be salvaged.
We mounted a vigorous appeal process with the Athletics Integrity Unit and had the team members complete the tests. However, timing became a critical issue. Despite our energetic appeal, the deciding committee made its announcement, which gave no latitude to our members for what was only an inadvertent lapse.
As minister, I ensured that all necessary approvals were done so that all requisite tests and exams could be timely completed. For me, this unfortunate incident is most painful because these athletes had prepared long and hard and also a view of the challenging circumstances due to COVID-19.
As the minister, I must bear some institutional responsibility for this lapse. I also had to depend and expect that each person in the long and often technical chain performs their role expeditiously and with precision. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line someone failed in their responsibility and as Minister, I bear the responsibility of the criticism. But that is not enough. I must move to ensure that Nigeria never experiences such a moment.
I have ordered a full investigation that will not only uncover what happened but will also recommend a process where such lapses can never occur in the future and initiate leveraging compliance monitoring technology to guardrail this.
I have personally apologised to the affected athletes. Here and now, I personally apologise to all Nigerians for this ineligibility episode. The AFN has also taken responsibility and apologised to the athletes and to Nigerians.
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