History-making mixed relay team gets reward for feat at Oregon 2022

For placing sixth in the final, the country’s mixed relay team will smile home with $8,000 at the ongoing World Athletics Championship in Oregon, United States.

Prior to the championship, the country’s mixed relay team was ranked 15th in the world. But on Day One of the championship, last Friday, the team won the hearts of many spectators by displacing top teams, including Great Britain to book a place in the final.

Nigeria made her debut in the event at the Tokyo Olympics, last year, where it exited in the first round.

The team made the final on Friday after placing fifth in the first race but scaled through after the second race produced a slower time.

In the first final of the Oregon Championship, the Nigerians finished sixth, a performance described as fantastic by the AFN Performance Director and Team Leader, Victor Okorie.

“Nobody gave Nigeria a chance of making it to the final, considering the fact that we were rated 15th in the world coming to this championship. We made history here, and I am sure it is a sign of better things to come,” Okorie said, adding that the team has won $8, 000 for its effort.

“Nigerian athletes are determined to do well here in Oregon despite the late arrival of some athletes from Nigeria due to late departure and visa-associated hiccups. Some of our athletes arrived a few hours before their events and were able to make it to the finals. Two of our male sprinters will be competing in the men’s 100m semi-finals, and hopefully, they would berth in the finals,” he said.

“Our shot put champion, Enekwechi Chukwuebuka, is already in the finals, and I pray he wins a medal for Nigeria,” Okorie said.

On the Nike kits supplied to Team Nigeria, the performance director: “We got these kits from Nike free, and we should commend them for coming to our rescue. The AFN will enter a formal agreement with Nike soon.

“The athletes are very happy with what they got. Things will surely get better because this current AFN board led by Tonobok Okowa will always go for the best,” Okorie stated.

Meanwhile, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), yesterday, provisionally suspended marathon runner, Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono and the United States 400m runner, Randolph Ross, meaning both athletes are out of Oregon 22.

A sample collected from Cherono tested positive for trimetazidine, a substance that is prohibited under the 2022 WADA Prohibited List as a metabolic modulator. Substances in this category modify how the body metabolises fat. Trimetazidine is approved for use in some countries to treat chest pain stemming from a lack of blood supply and oxygen to the heart.

Trimetazidine is a non-specified substance, and a provisional suspension is mandatory following an adverse analytical finding for such a substance under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules unless certain conditions apply.

The AIU collected the sample from Mr. Cherono during an out-of-competition test on 23 May 2022. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited laboratory in Lausanne that analysed the sample received it on May 27, 2002 and notified the AIU of the adverse analytical finding on July 13, 2022.

Mr. Cherono was travelling to Eugene at this time and was notified of the adverse analytical finding when he arrived in Eugene on July 14, 2022. In accordance with the Rules, the athlete was provided with an opportunity to show cause to the AIU why he should not be provisionally suspended.

In a press statement yesterday, Athletics Integrity Unit said, “Having considered the submission of Mr. Cherono, received late on July 15, the AIU has determined that a provisional suspension should apply with immediate effect and Mr. Cherono will not take part in the marathon on July 17.

The AIU notes that under the WADA International Standard for Laboratories, reporting of sample results should occur within twenty (20) days of receipt of the sample. In this case, the delay to the time of reporting was 47 days. The AIU has made a formal complaint to the laboratory in relation to this unacceptable delay, which has denied the opportunity for another Kenyan athlete to take the place of Mr. Cherono in the marathon.

Randolph Ross has today been issued a Notice of Allegation by the AIU alleging a violation of Rule 2.5 of the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules for tampering with the doping control process. The allegation arises out of the athlete’s conduct during the course of an investigation into a potential whereabouts violation. There was an unsuccessful attempt by the AIU to test Mr Ross on June 18, 2022, and the investigation into this matter concluded when Mr Ross was interviewed by the AIU in Eugene on 14 July.

The AIU has imposed a provisional suspension on Mr. Ross with immediate effect and Mr. Ross will not take part in the 400m heats on July 17.(The Guardian)

•PHOTO: Team Nigeria at Oregon 2022 World Championships