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Stakeholders call for collaboration to combat doping in sports

Posted : 14 September 2023
Stakeholders at a symposium in Lagos have called for collaboration to combat doping in sports, which they said had reached an alarming proportion in the country.

The stakeholders made the call at a workshop with the theme, “Symposium Against Use of Illicit Substances, Drug Abuse and Doping (2024 Olympics in View),” organised by Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Lagos.

Brig.-Gen (Rtd.) Buba Marwa, Chairman, National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), represented by Segun Oke, Zonal Commander Zone H, said the symposium was an opportunity to chart a united front against drug abuse.

“Doping is the act of using drug enhancement pills to induce artificial success. Whoever uses enhancement drugs as an athlete is a fraud.

“Imagine if we start dancing that our athletes have won a medal, and the next minute the athlete is stripped of the medal; the shame this brings is unquantifiable,” said Marwa.

According to Gbenga Olowo, the Chairman Golfview Hotel, keynote speaker at the symposium, doping is not good for sports tourism, which is key to generating revenue.

“As a sports person, understand you can make money and fame without doping. Sports tourism is something we don’t pay attention to in this part of the world.

“The sales of jerseys is underrated because we have refused to commercialise the sports industry. We don’t support our domestic league as we support foreign leagues.

“As an athlete you need to understand that through the sale of your merchandise such as signed jerseys, you can make good money without resorting to doping or using illicit drugs,” he said.

Also speaking at the symposium, Usman Wada, Commander Narcotics, Muritala Mohammed International Airport, said drug abuse was a menace to the country.

“This topic couldn’t have come at a better time, this symposium is crucial. A United Nations study came up with a report around 2018 that about 14 to 15 million Nigerians were abusing drugs daily.

“Recently we received more equipment, lie detector and body scanners for those who ingest drugs. So, this is a societal problem that we have to combat,” he said.

Ralph Okafor, a Deputy Director at the National Anti-doping Committee (NADC) urged athletes to always get clearance before medication when ill.

“Doping is an act focused on winning at all cost. In some cases athletes take some medications that have banned substances in them without knowing, but as we say ignorance is no excuse.

“There’s something called Therapeutic Use Exception (TUE). When an athlete is being treated for asthma for instance, there are some of these banned substances in a particular drug.

“What the athlete can do is to write to us and we will ask for test results before we give such athlete permission to use the drug.

“Some of these athletes are not even knowledgeable about things they should know as professionals,” he said.

Dr Adebukola Bojuwoye, the Director of Sports Medicine, Lagos State Sports Commission sees doping as a looming pandemic.

“I see a lot on daily basis and it is worrisome, there are times athletes will offer me bribe to use my urine for test samples, I always ask them if they know what I have in my system.

“The amount of money spent on these performance enhancement pills is crazy. This ruins their lives in the long run; we can do better as a community.

“We’ve a long way to go, and I believe this symposium is the right step in the right direction. Implementation of things raised here is necessary,” he said.

In the view of Moji Adeyeye, Director General, National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), pain is common with athletes, but she believes that sports men and women must use medication in recommended dosage.

Adeyeye, who was represented by Yeduni Adenuga, Director, NAFDAC, said: “Athletes and pain are a pair in a pod.

“Athletes get to deal with pain from time to time, the use of opioid has led dependency for some athletes, which is injurious to their health even when they retire.

“The long use of these drugs damage organs. We can as a community build a drug free society; we all have a role to play.

“Why we call some drugs illicit is because they’re being sold in black markets and not over the counter when prescribed. We need to warn our children and wards against the dangers involved.”

Speaking on behalf of the organisers of the symposium, SWAN, Lagos, Olatutu Oladunni said it was necessary to talk about the danger associated with doping and its effect on youths.

“We can’t exhaust this conversation, that’s why it became necessary for us all to join hands together to minimise or totally eradicate this menace.

“I’m thankful for the presence of all these government agencies both at the federal and state levels; this partnership will bring forth a new and well educated Nigerian youth that knows better than to use performance enhancing drugs.

“I’m grateful to all the heads of the government agencies, Brig.-Gen (Rtd.) Buba Marwa, just like he repositioned Lagos during his military administration, his winning streak is commendable in his fight against drug abuse,” she said.


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