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Friday, July 12, 2024

Ondo SWAN, NDLEA team up to tackle drug abuse in sports




Sports Writers Association Of Nigeria (SWAN) Ondo State chapter in collaboration with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have organised a comprehensive sensitization programme to combat drug abuse among athletes,fans and general public.

The event, held at the indoor Sports Hall of the Ondo State Sports complex,Akure brought together athletes, coaches, and stakeholders from various games.

While declaring open the sensitisation programme with the theme: “Drug Abuse- Battling A Menace In Nigerian Sports” Ondo State Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development Mr Saka Yusuf-Ogunleye commended the organisers for putting together the event at the right time when the whole world is preparing for 2024 Olympics.

The Commissioner represented by his Special Adviser, Mr Daodu Alex, said the state government is ready to partner with concerned stakeholders and agencies to have a drug abuse free society.

He said: “I admonished the convener of this event (SWAN) and their partner to ensure they take this advocacy beyond this hall, let us take it to schools so that we win be able to educate the upcoming athletes the danger in taking performance Enhancement tablets.”

The NDLEA Commander in Ondo State,Mr Kayode Raji, emphasised the urgent need to address the escalating issue of drug abuse within the sports community. “We are not here to deliver speeches; we are here to save lives,” he stated in his welcome remarks.

“Drug abuse has destroyed many lives, and it is no longer a distant issue but one that is now prevalent among us. The consequences are limitless. Drug abuse is gradually infiltrating the sports community, and now is the time to step in and sensitise athletes about its dangers.” He added

Raji further highlighted the NDLEA’s commitment to eradicating drug abuse and providing support for those affected.

“Preventive measures and support systems are in place, and we are dedicated to ensuring that athletes have the resources and knowledge to avoid the pitfalls of drug abuse,” he added.

Lawrence Adegbehingbe, an Olympian and one of the speakers at the event, stated that the pressure on athletes is immense, driving them to use substances to meet unrealistic performance expectations.

He emphasised that sensitization on drug should begin at home, with parents setting positive examples. He also expressed his gratitude to SWAN and the NDLEA for organising the event.

In his lecture, A senior Civil Servant in the State, Mr Bunmi Akinsemola said doping is as old as sports itself,saying, “it’s not clear whether it started with animals in chariot racing.” adding that the essence of doping is to cheat.

He said: “Even the ancient Olympics are not spared from the allegations of the use of herbal infusion before races, use of alcohol in modern Olympics was not uncommon.”

Akinsemola emphasised that performance Enhancement tablets can’t help athletes’ career but cut it short, saying,” International Olympic Committee stripped Marion Jones of five medals (three gold ,two bronze) she won in Sydney after she admitted using ‘BALCOs’ designer steroid.

According to him, other high profile doping cases involved : Diego Maradona, Claudio Cannigia, Andre Onana, Simona Halep, Paul Pogba, Silke Moeller, Sha’carri Richardson, Kolo Toure, Andre Aggasi,Marria Sharapova, Samir Nasri, Lance Armstrong,Erryon Knighton, Katherine Krabbe Grit Breuer .

Nigerian athletes like :”Folashade Abugan, Samson Idiata, ChiomaAjunwa, Cecilia Francis ,Grace Nwokocha,Kemi Adekola, Ivory Nwokorie Amaka, Innocent Azonze , Davidson Ezinwa,Mercy Genesis Deborah Odeyemi and many others were not exempted from the doping cases, I will advise athletes to rely on their natural abilities”.

Earlier in his welcome address, The Chairman of SWAN, Ondo State chapter, Mr. Segun Giwa, highlighted the significant threat drug abuse poses to the sports industry.

He stressed that sports writers must not be complacent and should play an active role in raising awareness and educating athletes.

Giwa called for stronger government support and the creation of a drug-free sports culture that values hard work, dedication, and fair play.

“Let us all work together to create a drug-free sports culture in Nigeria. A culture that values hard work, dedication, and fair play. A culture that produces champions who inspire us with their talent, their character, and their integrity” he said

Chief Olu Ajanaku, the Patron of SWAN and Chairman of the Badminton Association in the State, congratulated both the NDLEA and SWAN for organising the advocacy program.

Ajanaku, who likened sports to a friendly war, said “Sports is used to measure how healthy a nation is. The way we present ourselves as the youth of this nation goes a long way,” he said.

He referred to drug abuse as narco-terrorism, stating that the enemies of the country were using it to decimate the population of the youths. As a traditional ruler, he affirmed his duty to support the NDLEA in their fight to rid society of narcotics.

“Other stakeholders at the event urged the upcoming athletes to look up to the likes of Olympians Lawrence Adegbehingbe and Seun Ogunkoya who never tested positive for drugs (doping) during and after their retirements as great athletes.”