Nigeria has avoided doping issues during international competitions through the efforts of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) in adequately educating, orientating and guiding its athletes, an official has said.
The Chairman, NOC Medical Committee, Dr Akinwunmi Amao, made the assertion while speaking on the secrets behind keeping doping at its barest minimum in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lagos.
Amao spoke against the backdrop of the activities of the commission at the recent three-day NOC/Olympic Solidarity Sports Medicine Seminar in Lagos.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) backed seminar, titled “Protection of the Health of Clean Athletes”, was held at the Command Guest House, Apapa, Lagos.
The seminar drew sports medicine practitioners and physiotherapists from all the states of the federation.
They gathered to chart the way forward in the sports medicine in the country and to proffer solutions to problems facing the industry.
On doping among Nigerian athletes, Amao said that though the country’s representatives were not immune to doping, the NOC had made concerted efforts to properly sensitise its athletes.
“Nigeria is not immune to doping issues but we have been able to control it to the barest minimum. Government has been in control of those issues, especially in terms of education.
“What we do is in terms of getting information and awareness. Most of the athletes themselves have been cooperating with us because it is an individual thing.
“The athletes know what to take and what not to take and when they take their own decision, that are well informed. We already have a machinery in place.
“We always try to do what we can because we don’t want to go the way of Russia because of this; our athletes are being tested from time to time.
Amao said the commission was well aware of the dangers inherent in lack of information to the athletes that weare the colours of the country, adding that doping programmes were held before competitions.
“We always give them enough awareness through education even some outreach programmes before major competitions, distributing pamphlets containing what they need to know.
“We also educate many of them on medical issues, nutrition and always discourage them from obtaining drugs across counters.
“The athletes are not the ones in the know; we also educate our doctors, nurses and physiotherapists on what they need to know. The doctors have the manuals of IOC banned substances.
“The doctors just don’t prescribe anything, they do it within the guidance of laid down laws so that whenever the athletes go for competitions, they don’t run foul of the law,” he said.
Amao said that any athletes found positive would be dealt with according to the law of the sports.
“We don’t condone doping and any athlete found guilty will be sanctioned according to the dictates of the law of the game.
“We need more encouragement in sports medicine because we need more awareness and other experts to join in moving sports forward.
“Many people are in sports now, and many are still willing to go into sports, so, as the interest keeps expanding, we need more personnel to cater for the athletes,” he said.