5 Famous Nigerian Sports Celebrities Accused Of Doping In The Past


Doping scandals have marred the careers of many athletes worldwide, and Nigerian sports stars have not been immune to these controversies. Over the years, several Nigerian athletes have faced accusations and sanctions related to doping, casting shadows over their achievements. Here’s an extensive look at six famous Nigerian sports celebrities who have been accused of doping in the past through the eyes of Naijassador.

1. Blessing Okagbare

Blessing Okagbare is one of the best-known Nigerian athletes in recent years, blessed with excellent skills in sprints and long jump. But her career took a hit in 2021 when she became part of one of the largest doping scandals in Nigerian sports history. Before the Tokyo Olympics in July 2021, Okagbare tested positive for human growth hormone during an out-of-competition test. She was then provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU). Further investigations in October 2021 found numerous anti-doping rules violations (ADRVs) had occurred, prompting a longer ban. Her career was effectively ended when her 10-year ban from the sport was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in February 2022. Okagbare’s doping scandal was a big setback for Nigerian athletics, particularly as she was being held up as a role model to many.

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2. Chioma Ajunwa

Nigeria’s first Olympic gold medalist was Chioma Ajunwa in the long jump at the 1996 games in Atlanta. But her career was marred by an early doping scandal. She tested positive for anabolic steroids at the 1992 African Championships which kept her out of the next few major competitions. She was instead hit with a four-year ban and didn’t return to track until the 1996 Olympics. Despite the doping ban, Ajunwa’s comeback to win gold in Atlanta was a remarkable feat, but the earlier scandal left a taint on her record she could never wash off.

3. Mary Onyali

Mary Onyali was fondly known as the Queen of Nigerian Sprints for more than 20 years. However, she was also embroiled in doping controversies. Onyali tested positive for ephedrine, a banned substance during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Given that the drug is a stimulant, she was given just a few months’ suspension. It did not permanently halt her career as an athlete but the doping charge hung around and coloured some of her glory with a hint of controversy.

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4. Segun Toriola

Nigeria’s table tennis legend, Segun Toriola has been one of the greats in this sport from the country over generations with many Olympic appearances. He had no involvement in a doping scandal but his career was briefly overshadowed by some doping accusations. He was alleged to have used drugs to enhance performance in 2014 but trials later exonerated him. The case of the false accusation meant a direct insight into the pressures and problems athletes had with charges of doping. For Toriola, his contention of the charges was necessary in preserving his reputation as one of Africa’s most successful table tennis players.

5. Jerry Okorodudu

Former Nigerian boxer Jerry Okorodudu was also embroiled in doping allegations. The reign would eventually end after he was accused of doping in the late 1980s, which saw him suspended from the sport. While the exact details of the substances and how long he was banned were unclear, it was certainly enough to put him forever off-track in his boxing career. The doping scandal of Okorodudu is one which sent a clear signal that the menace was beyond hearing about doping cases in football, athletics and a few others but now well rooted in sport. The incident reiterated the necessity of proper discipline and safety nets for players.

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Doping scandals have profoundly impacted the careers of several Nigerian sports celebrities. These controversies tarnish individual legacies and cast a shadow over the broader sports community. The cases of these athletes illustrate the complex and multifaceted nature of doping issues in sports. Efforts to combat doping involve not only stringent testing and sanctions but also education and support for athletes to understand the implications and avoid prohibited substances. The Nigerian sports authorities continue to work towards a cleaner, fairer sporting environment, aiming to uphold the integrity of the nation’s rich athletic heritage.

Written by Sarah Aboje


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