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Blessing Okagbare, the Nigerian sprinter once shamed by her wig

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Blessing Okagbare wig
Blessing Okagbare with her wig that fell of while she was competing in 2017. Photo/Mundo Deportivo
  • Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare doping ban added to her list of controversy
  • AIU banned her for 10 years
  • She is a divorcee and famous for her wig that once fell off while competing

Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare doping ban added to her list of controversies over the last decade. It all culminated to a 10-year ban for doping, a verdict pronounced in 2022.

It wasn’t the first time this was happening. Okagbare had her run-ins over the vice a couple of years back but it wasn’t as serious as it was in 2022. She got her doping ban extended to 10 years. Rationally speaking, it ended her long jump and sprinting career prematurely.

WHO IS BLESSING OKAGBARE?

She hails from Delta’s Sapele region in Nigeria and identifies with Urhobo people. She is now 34 years old – born on October 9, 1988. Growing up, her parents and tutors back in school discovered she was gifted in track events. They did the needful by encouraging her to participate in field and track events because her athletic body said it all.

Little did they know that they were setting her up for today’s Blessing Okagbare doping controversy.  A young Okagbare at the time participated in football while in primary and in secondary school before discovering the long jump and sprinting. Her childhood and teenage years saw her take back home many trophies in high, triple and long jump until 2004 when she discovered sprinting.

Blessing Okagbare

Blessing Okagbare. Photo/Brila FM

However, she continued with what she knew and won a bronze medal in the triple jump for the senior national team at the 2004 Nigerian National Sports Festival. She would later debut at the 2006 World Junior Championships in Athletics and competed in the long jump and triple jump until 2009.

WHEN DID BLESSING OKAGBARE START SPRINTING?

Okabare added the 100 m sprint to her athletic portfolio in 2010 during the NCAA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championship for the University of Texas at El Paso. She won with a record time of 11.04 seconds. At the 2010 African Championship, Okagbare also took home gold in the 100-meter event with a time of 11.03 seconds.

Come 2011, she went all out in athletics and concluded her year’s campaign with three medals from All Africa Games held in Maputo, Mozambique. Two years later, she crushed her personal best record in sprinting by debuting the 200 m run in California. She sprinted in 22.31 seconds. This success obliviously pushed the storm that is Blessing Okagbare doping closer.

At the 2014 Commonwealth games, she won a gold medal in the 200 m race with a time of 22.25 seconds. The Nigerian also made history by winning the 100 m sprint in 10.91 seconds.  The 2014 Commonwealth games gave her a history-making avenue. One, she broke Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie’s 12-year record time in the 100 m sprint.

She also became the fourth female sprinter to win gold medals in both the 100 m and 200 m sprints from a single event.

BLESSING OKAGBARE DOPING

Blessing Okagbare doping case came to an end in February 2022 when the Athletics Integrity Unit banned her for 10 years. Then, in June 2022, AIU extended this ban by another year. It locked her out of any athletic events, locally, regionally and internationally.

The AIU indicted her citing her active involvement in a planned doping programme before the 2016 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Her positive test for EPO, a blood thinner supported her ban. Okagbare tested positive for this banned substance while in Slovakia, in 2021.

Besides EPO, Okagbare also tested positive for another banned human growth hormone. She sat out on the 100 m race at the Tokyo Olympics as AIU issued a provisional ban at the time.

For the use of banned substances, Okagbare got five years ban and another five for lack of cooperation during the probe. At 34 now, Blessing Okagbare doping verdict effectively ended her career.

BLESSING OKAGBARE BLEACHING

In 2018, she walked down the aisle with Igho Otegheri who she later divorced in 2020 citing laziness, promiscuity and irreparable damage to their union. However, this added the fuel to the fire of her bleached skin during her wedding. Many people couldn’t recognize her and she became an instant sensation.

BLESSING OKAGBARE WIG FALLING OFF

On June 16, 2017, Okagbare wig fell off as she made her way to the runway for the long jump. Though embarrassed, she picked it up graciously after measuring her mark and put it back in place. It’s unforgettable, just like Blessing Okagbare doping ban.

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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