UPDATED 8/1/14, 10:07 A.M.: It is now official: 16-year-old Chika Amalaha (pictured) faces a doping ban for failing both drug tests, after winning a gold medal in weightlifting in the women’s 53kg category at the Commonwealth Games this week, according to the BBC.
Authorities initially tested Amalaha’s “A” sample, which was reportedly found to have masking drugs that hide illegal substances in it.
Shortly after, Commonwealth Games Federation Chief Executive Mike Hooper remarked, “I can’t and won’t speculate on what the outcome might be. We have a robust process in place that must be followed to ensure fairness to all.”
Amalaha’s “B” sample was then tested, but that was also found to have drugs in it.
According to the World Doping Agency, athletes who fail drug tests are often recommended for a two-year ban for their first offense.
Chika Amalaha (pictured), Nigeria’s 16-year-old weightlifting gold medalist at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, has been provisionally suspended for reportedly failing a drug test.
Amalaha is the first athlete to fail a test at the Glasgow games, after testing positive for two banned substances.
Amalaha’s “A” sample reportedly contained amiloride, and hydrochlorothiazide, which are both reportedly masking agents that ‘hide’ the presence of illegal substances in the system. The drugs are both banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
She has exercised her rights to have her backup “B” sample tested independently in London, but should it confirm the earlier doping result, she will receive a permanent suspension and be stripped of her gold medal.
WADA President Sir Craig Reedie told the Associated Press, “WADA will look at the circumstances surrounding this case once we know the full facts.”
The anti-doping tests are not random at the Games this year, because they are largely based on intelligence. This has led observers to believe that Amahala may have attracted a test, when she broke the records in her weight category with a 196 kilograms (432 pounds) lift.
Doping violations are not new to the Nigerian Weightlifting Federation. There have been reports of rampant drug-taking at Nigerian Weightlifting events. The Federation was suspended in 2001, after investigations revealed several doping violations. This prevented them from participating in Manchester’s Commonwealth Games in 2002.
Outside of weightlifting, Nigerian athletes have been found wanting in anti-doping charges in previous Commonwealth Games. For example, at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games four years ago, three Nigerian runners failed doping tests.
At her young age, an athlete like Amalaha may be the victim in the situation. Questions are being raised about how she had access to these drugs.
Reid reiterated this concern saying, “I am rather saddened and disappointed this has happened to a 16-year-old.”
There are calls for a better education system on anti-doping laws for Nigerian athletes, which should help avert this embarrassing pattern for Nigerian athletes at the Commonwealth Games.