The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has reacted to the disqualification of Nigeria’s 4x400m women’s relay team from the Rio Olympic Games, describing it as very unfortunate.
The women’s 4x400m relay squad has been the nation’s most consistent team in recent years, and it stood a chance of making it the medal zone in Rio.Sadly, Team Nigeria will have to do without the 4x400m women’s team in Brazil, following a ban by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), two days ago due to Tosin Adeloye’s participation in most of the races from last year, where Nigeria got the qualification marks.
Adeloye, an African 400m and 4x400m junior champion, failed an in-competition test at the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Super Grand Prix held in Warri, Delta State on July 24, 2015.
The result of the test conducted by AFN after the race in Warri saw Adeloye testing positive to banned substances and was subsequently banned for eight years by the IAAF.Consequently, all results (individual and combined) achieved from the time she tested positive, were nullification by IAAF, thereby knocking out the 4x400m women team, Nigeria’s biggest medal’s hope, from the Rio Olympics.
Since the news of IAAF’s ban broke out two days ago, some Nigerians have expressed disappointment with the AFN over the handling of the issue, with some analysts suggesting that the federation had enough time to savage the situation.
However, the spokesman of AFN, Olukayode Thomas told The Guardian yesterday that the federations should not be blamed for IAAF ban on the 4x400m women’s relay team.
“It was the AFN that actually conducted the test in Warri that led to Adeloye’s ban. We did that to save the country from international embarrassment. After Adeloye tested positive, we tried every means to feature other athletes in big athletics competitions so that the women’s 4x400m relay team could gain qualification marks for the Rio Olympics outside the races she (Adeloye) featured. But we encountered series of challenges along the line,” Thomas stated.
Speaking further, the AFN spokesman said: “We entered the 4x400m women’s team for the World Penn Relay in Philadelphia, USA, but the American embassy refused to give visa to one of the athletes, Patience Okon-George. We also tried to take a formidable squad to the last African senior Athletics championship in Durban, South Africa, but fund was a major challenge. I am taking time to explain this so that Nigerians can appreciate the efforts we made to avert this ban on the 4x400m women’s relay team.”
Adeloye was also a part of the gold winning team at the 2015 African Games in Brazzaville, and had also set a Personal Best (PB) of 51.24s at the competition, which turned out to be her last outing for Nigeria.
With the ban placed on the 4x400m women’s team, the trio of Patience Okon-George, Omolara Omotosho and Margaret Bamgbose will only compete in the 400m in Rio, having finished top three at the Nigerian Trials held in Sapele earlier this month. But it is a sad development for the duo of for Regina George and Yinka Ajayi who were only listed for the 4x400m, meaning that they will be missing in Rio.
George was recently endorsed by Union Bank ahead of the Rio Olympics Games. She will now focus on the 2017 World Championships in London.As for the Rio Olympics, Team Nigeria’s medal hope in the relay now rest on the women’s 4x100m team, since the men’s 4x100m and 4x400m teams failed to qualify for Rio.