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Okagbare remains distraught over doping suspension

… as AFN’s anti-doping unit storms Junior athletes’ camp in Asaba

Nigeria’s queen of tracks, Blessing Okagbare is said is still troubled following her provisional suspension by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for a doping rule violation.

It will be recalled that the AIU in the press release in the early hours of Saturday stated that the Nigerian 100/200m record holder was provisionally suspended with immediate effect after a sample collected from her tested positive for human Growth Hormone.

WHAT IS HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE?

There are two forms of the human growth hormone, according to the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

There’s the endogenous growth hormone naturally produced by the human body from childhood which dictates the development of the body into adulthood.Advertisement

On the other hand, there’s the recombinant growth hormone derived from artificially compounded elements, which perform the same function in people, especially children, battling growth deficiency.

The latter has been suspected to be abused by athletes, because of its anabolic properties, which, according to Endocrine Review, “stimulates whole-body protein synthesis, including skeletal muscle and collagen proteins”.

WHY IS IT BANNED IN SPORTS?

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) categorised the growth hormone under its anabolic agents on its prohibited list.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) first banned the substance in 1989.

It is believed that the growth hormone provides increased muscle mass, power and endurance for athletes, which can give them an advantage over their competitors.

However, the notion that the substance enhances physical performance hasn’t been proven sufficiently.

According to WADA, some of the effects of growth hormone on athletes’ performances include “the reduction of body fat (lipolysis); the increase in muscle mass and strength (anabolic effect), as well as its tissue-repairing effects (recovery) on the musculoskeletal system”.

It can also be used synergistically with other performance-enhancing drugs, which affects muscle anabolism and athletic performance.

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POTENTIAL RISKS OF USING THE GROWTH HORMONE?

Continued use of the substance can cause increased blood pressure in the brain, abnormal growth of organs, damage to vision in people with diabetes, swelling or stiffness in the arms and legs, according to the US anti-doping agency.

WADA added that it also reduces the life expectancy of the user significantly.

Meanwhile, in its bid to avoid a repeat of the incident in Tokyo, where ten Nigerian athletes were prevented from competing by the Athletics Integrity Unit, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), has dispatched its Anti-Doping Unit to the camp of the junior athletes, who are preparing for the World U20 Championship.

The athletes, who have been in camp in Asaba, Delta State, held their Open Trial on Thursday to select those for the World Championship slated for Nairobi, Kenya from August 17 to 22.

During the U20 Open Trials held at Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba on Thursday, Kingsley Emeka Unorji ran 10.32 seconds in the men’s 100m, just as Favour Oghenetejiri Ashe posted 10.34seconds to make the list of athletes who remain in camp for the World Championship. Okoro Oghale ran 10.61 seconds.

In the women’s 100m event, Olayinka Sholademi Olajide ran 11.50 seconds, while Praise Ofoku returned at 11.51seconds.

In the women’s 200m, Chidera Johnson ran 21.57 seconds, while Johnson Winifred returned a time of 22.35 seconds.

The duo of Kingsley Emeka Unorji (21.80 seconds) and Famous Analuwe (22.38 seconds) topped the table in the men’s 200m event.

In the men’s 110m hurdles, Ekporere Prosperran ran 13.97seconds, just as Okonye Precious posted a time of 14.29 seconds.

The AFN’s junior camp for the World Championship opened in Asaba on July 23 for athletes selected from different parts of the country.

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