A decision in the case of World Athletics (WA) against Divine Oduduru has been issued by the Disciplinary Tribunal.
On 2 May 2023, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) issued Mr Oduduru, a Nigerian athlete, specialised in sprints, with a Notice of Charge for committing Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADVRs) for the Possession and Use or Attempted Use of hGH, IGF-1 and EPO, substances on the WADA 2021 Prohibited List (Category 2). This was following an investigation by the United States Department of Justice into Eric Lira a “naturopathic” therapist operating principally in El Paso, Texas, USA, who had obtained various performance enhancing drugs (“PEDs”) and distributed those PEDs to certain athletes in advance of, and for the purpose of cheating at the Tokyo Olympic Games. The decision issued by the Disciplinary Tribunal on the matter of WA against Blessing Okagbare by which it was determined that Ms Okagbare was one of the two athletes mentioned in the Eric Lira case.
The Disciplinary Tribunal, comprised of Ms Anna Bordiugova, Mr Peter Koh, Mr Paul Ciucur, was appointed to hear this matter.
After having found hGH, IGF-1 and EPO in his apartment, directly linked to Mr Lira, it was discovered that Mr Oduduru could be the second athlete mentioned in the Eric Lira Case. After being faced with these charges, Mr Oduduru claimed that he had not obtained those Prohibited Substances and that he had no knowledge of who Mr Lira was and why Ms Okagbare mentioned him by name in conversations with Mr Lira. While having considered the oral and documentary evidence presented by both Mr Oduduru and the witnesses for WA, the Tribunal did not accept this claim by Mr Oduduru.
The Tribunal analysed both ADRVs separately. On the matter of Possession of a Prohibited Substance, the Disciplinary Tribunal was convinced by WA’s witnesses. It found there to be no justification for the possession of the substances and no evidence to point to the fact that the athlete had been sabotaged or knew nothing about how the substances had gotten into his apartment, especially since there was no explanation provided as to why he was mentioned frequently by Ms Okagbare in her message exchanges with Mr Lira or how the Prohibited Substances found were the exact ones requested from Mr Lira by Ms Okagbare for “Divine”. On the matter of Use or Attempted Use, the Disciplinary Tribunal dismissed the Use charge but upheld the Attempted Use charge. The Tribunal stated that the fact that Mr Oduduru had a clean record was not a factor to be considered since the substances are difficult to be detected unless a sample is taken immediately after a dose was injected. Further, the Tribunal stated that there was no requirement for an admission to be necessary to establish the Use or Attempted Use, and that the evidence it had was sufficient to find that there was Attempted Use but not sufficient evidence to determine if there was Use.
The Disciplinary Tribunal thereby determined that Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) had been established pursuant to Rule 2.6 and 2.2 of the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules. A period of Ineligibility of six years was imposed due to there being aggravating circumstances per Rule 10.4 as there were multiple Prohibited Substances and the matter involved a doping scheme that was coordinated with another international level athlete and a doctor, over a prolonged period and targeted a specific, significant competition (the Olympic Games). The period of Ineligibility commenced on the date of the Disciplinary Tribunal’s decision, 18 September 2023, but credit was given for the period Mr Oduduru was provisionally suspended, therefore running from 9 February 2023. Further, Mr Oduduru’s results earned from 12 July 2021 until the beginning of the Athlete’s Provisional Suspension, if any, were disqualified.
Sport Resolutions is the independent secretariat to the World Athletics Disciplinary Tribunal.
A copy of the full decision can be accessed via the related links tab on the right-hand side.