By Ridwan Kolawole
A national study conducted on doping prevention in sports has revealed that 60% of Nigerian athletes use stimulants to boost their performance.
The Principal Investigator of the study, Professor Olufemi Adegbesan made the disclosure in Ibadan.
The Study revealed that 50% of the doping users were male athletes.
Professor of Sport Psychology at the University of Ibadan Olufemi Adegbesan has tasked Games Masters and Sports officers in Nigerian schools to inculcate reliance on natural talents and skills in younger athletes to check the growing threat of doping in Nigerian sports circle.
Professor Adegbesan who lamented the growing problem of doping among Nigerian athletes disclosed that sixty per cent of athletes in a study he conducted disclosed that they use stimulants saying this is dominant among over fifty per cent of male athletes.
Professor Adegbesan is the principal investigator on a TETFUND funded project under the National Research Fund entitled “Integrative of Socio-cognitive and Biomedical Mechanisms for prevention of Doping in Sports: A mixed research narratives”.
He stated this while presenting a paper at a two-day webinar organised in collaboration with the National Anti-Doping Committee to create awareness against doping culture attended by over 300 Games Masters and sports officers over the weekend.
According to the Don, doping is taking a dangerous dimension where under-15 in National Youth games tested positive to using illicit substance adding that games masters have huge roles to stop the menace early at the grassroots.
“Children under 14 years of age have started using performance-enhancing drugs in Nigeria and that is telling us that there is a problem. This is a sign that they are being tutored by their coaches and other sports personnel. We really need to deal with that angle. The National Anti-doping committee is doing education and information even during the lockdown period to educate athletes through webinars.
“Competition starts at the grassroots and we need to create awareness from there. Doping is a serious threat to the health of the athlete and brings shame to the nation through sanctions. It prevents the natural growth of sports and nurturing of natural talents. We believe we can shape the right behaviour in young athletes in schools and this is where Games masters and sports officers as in locus parentis are vital in developing a positive attitude towards anti-doping in the younger athletes so they will not grow to see it as the normal way to reach stardom”
Also speaking, Consultant Anti-doping expert with Cleardum, Pharmacist Femi Ayorinde asserted that it was important to track and create positive awareness culture in younger athletes from the grassroots before they form an opinion.
He lamented that 6 athletes under fourteen years of age tested positive to performance enhancement substance use at the 2019 National Youth Games held in Kwara state saying this portends a dangerous dimension.
“Nigeria is trying in anti-doping but we are not doing enough. We need to do more to address this menace. The world anti-doping organisation wants the anti-doping agency as a full-fledged body. It is not supposed to be under the Ministry. It is supposed to stand independently so that they can conduct tests, do education and result management to be handled by them. There are international standards in the world anti-doping code. For now, there are six of them and I think two will be added next year and coming to effect by January 2021.”
He added, “We need to adhere to these standards. We are being monitored by the Code Compliance Committee. And if we are found wanting we can be declared non-compliant. And if this happens, we may be sanctioned not to take part in international competitions for example in Olympic, commonwealth games, world championship among others. Anybody that is holding any post such as IOC can be dropped. We may not have the opportunity to contest for positions. At the grassroots level, the athletes are amenable before they form an opinion, once an opinion is formed it may be difficult to tame and this is why Games Master and sports officers at the grassroots must inculcate the right values in their athletes.”