The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have given the fourth IAAF bronze label Okpekpe International 10km Road Race held last May in Okpekpe near Auchi in Edo State a clean bill of health following the negative dope tests recorded at the one-day meeting.
Disclosing this in Lagos at the weekend, Dare Esan, spokesman for the only IAAF recognised international road race in Nigeria and one of only two labelled road races in Africa this year alongside the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon which holds later this month in Cape Town, South Africa revealed that the result of the doping control carried out on May 7 when the fourth edition of the Okpekpe race was held have returned an all negative result.
“This is not only a good development for the sport, it is equally a big plus for the organisers of the race,” said Esan, an IAAF recognised journalist who has covered eight editions of the IAAF flagship event, the World Championships in athletics.
“In an era where doping is damaging the sports generally, a high profile race like the Okpekpe International 10km Road Race has restored some confidence in the sport of track and field,” Esan further said and admitted organisers of the race had no control over the athletes who competed at the race.
“But we have control over how we organise the race, especially the doping control which the IAAF ranks as one of the most important aspects of an international road race like the Okpekpe race. The chairman of Pamodzi Sports Marketing, originator and organisers of the race, Mr Mike Itemuagbor was clear about the doping issue from the start and spared no expense in getting not only the most qualified Nigerian but also a very honest man in person of Dr Akin Amao to head the unit. He also ensured everything was done in accordance with IAAF regulations not only on doping but all aspects of the race including timing.
“So athletes coming for the race were aware there could be no short cut to success. And the result is that for the fourth consecutive editions the Okpekpe International 10km Road Race have been dope free. This is the message we are sending across to athletes intending to participate in the fifth edition next year,” he said.
Esan also revealed that organisers of the race have submitted the race report to the IAAF including the request for an upgrade into a silver label.
“We fulfilled all the conditions the IAAF listed for a silver label race last May even though it was a bronze label race and I am very confident the fifth edition of the race will be a silver label race, the first in Nigeria and West Africa,” he added.
Kenyan duo of Simon Cheprot and Polline Wanjiku emerged winners in the respective men and women categories.