Boxscore: TOKYO, JAPAN (August 2, 2021) – Africa has been waiting with bated breath for the start of athletics at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, expecting a flourish of medals.
Now that the games are underway, news of the disqualification of two African athletes for failing their drug tests has put a damper on the games.
Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare was the first to be disqualified after the beginning of Track events. Okagbare had just eased her way through to the semi-finals from her 100m heat before she was tested and disqualified.
A day later, another African sprinter from Kenya, Mark Otieno Odhiambo, also tested positive for a banned substance leading to his suspension from the games.
The news for his suspension was received with shock as it has come just weeks after Odhiambo and his sprinting friend and colleague Ferdinand Omanyala made history as the first-ever 100M athletes from Kenya to qualify for the Olympic games.
Otieno’s Olympic dream came crashing down hours before stepping on the track for the qualifying heats.
Another Kenyan sprinter, Ferdinand Omanyala, earlier made it through from his heat coming third and moving through to the Semifinals.
The issue of doping has been lingering over a number of Kenyan athletes over the past decade.
Omanyala served a 17-month ban in 2017 for using a banned substance before he returned and made that historic qualification for the Tokyo Olympics.
Other notable names who have been found guilty of doping in the past are former Olympic 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop who was handed a four-year ban after he tested positive back in 2017 and the 2016 Olympic women marathon champion Jemima Sumgong and the former Marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich.
A recent study on doping in Kenya concluded that most athletes in the country as well as most African nations are insufficiently educated when it comes to doping and don’t fully understand the consequences.
In January of this year, a total of 60 athletes from Kenya were banned for failing their drug tests, making doping a huge problem for the east African powerhouse nation.