October 3, 2023

Nigerian sprinter Divine Oduduru has been suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit after he was found to have violated anti-doping rules.

The violation could see Oduduru slapped with a six-year ban.

The charges against Oduduru were disclosed in a statement released by the AIU where it was revealed that he was a collaborator with a US therapist who supplied athletes with performance-enhancing drugs, including his Nigerian colleague, Blessing Okagbare.

The statement reads, “The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has notified Divine Oduduru of two potential Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) and is seeking a six-year ban against the Nigerian.

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“The sprinter has been notified of potential ADRVs for possession (Rule 2.6 of the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules; ADR) and/or use or attempted use of multiple Prohibited Substances (Rule 2.2 ADR). He has been provisionally suspended immediately.

“These alleged violations stem from an AIU investigation based on information in a criminal charge brought against US-based “naturopathic” therapist Eric Lira, on 12 January, 2022, by the United States Department of Justice under the Rodchenkov Act.

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“Lira is alleged to have supplied performance-enhancing drugs to athletes before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (delayed until summer 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic). The complaint against Lira provides specific information regarding persons identified as ‘Athlete 1’ and ‘Athlete 2’.

“In February 2022, a sole arbitrator of the AIU Disciplinary Tribunal concluded that they were “comfortably satisfied” that ‘Athlete 1’ was Oduduru’s team-mate, Blessing Okagbare, and banned her from the sport for ten years, which was increased to an 11-year ban in June 2022 following further charges brought by the AIU.

“Based on the information in the complaint, including text conversations imaged from Okagbare’s mobile phone by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and further evidence obtained from the AIU investigation, the AIU alleges that Oduduru is ‘Athlete 2’ identified in the complaint.

“As the process is ongoing, the AIU will make no further comment on the matter at this time.

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