Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare was provisionally suspended for doping Saturday, hours before she was due to run in the semifinals of the women’s 100 meters at the Olympics.
Okagbare tested positive for human growth hormone in an out-of-competition test on July 19, the Athletics Integrity Unit said, prompting a mandatory provisional suspension.
The results of that test were only received by track and field’s anti-doping body late Friday and after Okagbare had already run in the 100 heats on the opening day of track competition at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, the AIU said.
She won her heat in 11.05 seconds.
The AIU informed Okagbare of her suspension on Saturday morning, it said. Under doping regulations, she is now allowed to request that a “B” sample — or backup sample — is tested to double-check the results.
The 32-year-old Okagbare won a silver medal in the long jump at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2013 world championships. She also collected a bronze in the 200 meters at the 2013 worlds in Moscow behind gold medal winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who is the favorite for the 100 title in Tokyo.
The women’s 100 final is the last event on the Olympic track schedule on Saturday.
Okagbare’s suspension comes three days after the AIU announced that 10 track and field athletes from Nigeria were among a group of 20 from various countries who were disqualified from competing at the Olympics because they hadn’t met minimum doping test requirements.
Nigeria is considered a high-risk country by the World Anti-Doping Agency because of a brittle anti-doping program. Because of that, Nigerian athletes must have at least three out-of-competition tests in the 10 months before a major championship.
The AIU did not name any of those other athletes who were ruled ineligible for the Olympics because they didn’t meet anti-doping requirements.
But, some Nigerian athletes who said they were among those barred protested on the streets of Tokyo this week and held up signs claiming Nigerian sports and anti-doping authorities were responsible for them not meeting the testing criteria.
There are seven “Category A” countries for WADA: Belarus, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and Ukraine.
Kenya dropped two runners from its Olympic team just before the Tokyo Games opened because they had not undergone enough out-of-competition tests in the buildup to the Olympics.