The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has handed Nigeria’s Divine Oduduru a provisional suspension over the use of prohibited substances.
AIU announced the sprinter’s suspension in a statement released on Thursday.
The body said Oduduru was identified as one of the clients of Eric Lira, a self-acclaimed kinesiologist and naturopathic doctor, who is currently a plaintiff in a case titled “US’ first Olympic anti-doping charges”.
The 26-year-old sprinter joins Blessing Okagbare on the list of athletes identified as collaborators with Lira.
Lira was accused of providing performance-enhancing drugs to athletes who participated in the Tokyo Olympics.
In 2022, Okagbare was banned for 11 years following an investigation by AIU after she failed an out-of-competition doping test.
In the statement, AIU said Oduduru was identified as a suspect “based on the information in the complaint, including text conversations imaged from Okagbare’s mobile phone by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).”
It added that process has begun to hand a six-year ban on the Ughelli-born athlete.
“The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has notified Divine Oduduru of two potential Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) and is seeking a six-year ban against the Nigerian,” the statement reads.
“The sprinter has been notified of potential ADRVs for possession (Rule 2.6 of the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules; ADR) and/or use or attempted use of multiple Prohibited Substances (Rule 2.2 ADR). He has been provisionally suspended immediately.
“These alleged violations stem from an AIU investigation based on information in a criminal charge brought against US-based “naturopathic” therapist Eric Lira, on 12 January, 2022, by the United States Department of Justice under the Rodchenkov Act.
“Lira is alleged to have supplied performance-enhancing drugs to athletes before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (delayed until summer 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic). The complaint against Lira provides specific information regarding persons identified as ‘Athlete 1’ and ‘Athlete 2’. In February 2022, a sole arbitrator of the AIU Disciplinary Tribunal concluded that they were “comfortably satisfied” that ‘Athlete 1’ was Oduduru’s team-mate, Blessing Okagbare, and banned her from the sport for ten years, which was increased to an 11-year ban in June 2022 following further charges brought by the AIU.
“Based on the information in the complaint, including text conversations imaged from Okagbare’s mobile phone by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and further evidence obtained from the AIU investigation, the AIU alleges that Oduduru is ‘Athlete 2’ identified in the complaint.
“As the process is ongoing, the AIU will make no further comment on the matter at this time.”
Oduduru becomes the second Nigerian sprinter currently suspended by AIU after Grace Nwokocha was also penalised for failing a doping test at the 2022 Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Birmingham.