In the last few years, Nigerian athletes have been in the eye of the storm due to violation of doping rules. Doping in itself refers to the use of banned substances to enhance performance. As a means to curtail doping, the Integrity units of sports bodies carry out random and planned doping tests on athletes, as they deem fit.
If banned substances are found in the samples of athletes, then their integrity is called into question, and doping investigations are made. For elite athletes, the rules are even more stringent. Missing three doping tests (planned or not) in the span of 12 months can land them in big trouble.
A number of Nigerian athletes have had to face the integrity Unit of World Athletics over doping issues, and this rising number is tarnishing the profile of the country internationally. Blessing Okagbare, Divine Oduduru, and recently Grace Nwokocha. While these unwanted records stall the progress of athletes as individuals, there are many reasons why it should be treated as a national issue.
The Nigerian Anti-Doping Committee, led by Prof. Kenneth Anugweje had its board ratified by former president, Muhammadu Buhari just over a year ago. While it has continued to put efforts towards eradicating doping violations in Nigeria, the enormity of the work is beyond just what a committee can fix. There is a need for a bigger body, backed by Federal legislation to push this fight institutionally. This part of Nigeria’s anti-doping regulations has always annoyingly moved at a snail-pace speed.
100 Days of Impact
In a bold commitment to bolster the fight against doping in sports, the Honourable Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh declared an unwavering commitment to expedite the submission of the National Anti-Doping Commission Establishment Bill to the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly for ratification in the coming weeks. Now that is what the country yearned for. The political will to get things moving.
“Our hope is that in the next couple of weeks, we will be able to get the bill ready,” the Minister said. “We will go through the necessary processes, leading up to introducing it to the National Assembly, as an Executive Bill. We will get it across to the Federal Ministry of Justice, to the Federal Executive Committee (FEC), and all the approvals that will lead to that.
Enoh had emphasized the paramount importance of legislation to the National Anti-Doping Committee, identifying it as a crucial step towards overcoming the challenges it faces in achieving its objectives. Nigeria has always needed a Sports Minister that is determined to elevate the fight against doping in sports and ensure that the sporting environment in Nigeria remains fair and clean, with zero tolerance for doping violations.
Moreso, one that places a major focus on education as a preventive strategy against doping, as some cases are as a result of ignorance. Senator Enoh has thus far shown readiness to roll up his sleeves and get down to work. It is not only commendable, but worth being excited about.
The most exciting part was Enoh’s acknowledgement of why more expertise was needed in this area. The Minister acknowledged the need to strengthen the current system while working on the Commission establishment bill. He had elaborated that strengthening the Committee will be done by expanding its professional and technical expertise, with a strong focus on educating athletes on the importance of fair and clean competition.
With all of the country’s troubles with doping, there seem to be good times on the offing. The air of optimism that is flying around the sports sector comes with the leadership vibrance of John Enoh. If the first 100 days are anything to go by, then the sports ministry is set for a gigantic turn around in the next few years of this administration.