Former Nigerian 400m champion and Olympics team captain, Bruce Ijirigho, has expressed his belief that Nigerian-born Bahrain World 400m champion, Salwa Eid Naser, who is currently being investigated by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) is not a drug cheat, the sportsbay.com reports.
According to him, he believes her success on the tracks is not as a result of performance-enhancing drugs but through hard work and talent.
Naser, formerly Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu, who was born in Anambra State, Nigeria, switched allegiance to Bahrain in 2014 and became the first Asian woman world champion in the 400m at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championship in Doha. She ran 48.14 seconds, the third-fastest time in athletics history.
The athlete was provisionally suspended a few days ago by AIU, which claimed she missed four anti-doping tests, including a “fourth whereabouts failure” in January 2020. The athlete is insisting she only missed three anti-doping tests, which is “normal”.
However, Bruce Ijirigho, a grassroots sports development consultant, is of the opinion that the 48.14 seconds Naser achieved at Doha 2019, was through her natural talent.
Ijirigho, whose sports programme has produced several stars for Nigeria, said Naser’s rise to the top was as a result of hard work and determination according to the Guardian.
“Being a former 400 metres runner myself, I can attest to the fact that the 400m final at Doha 2019 was one of the best race executions I ever saw at that level of competition.
Salwa’s race was a complete display of guts, plan execution, determination and total inner conviction that she would win,” Ijirigho stated.