By; AYO OJEDOKUN, Lagos
Nigerian athletes across various sporting disciplines have been warned to desist from taking drugs to enhance their performance for results as this could spell doom for, not only their career, but their health, families and the image of the country.
This was the submission of various speakers at the symposium organised by the Lagos State Chapter of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) in partnership with the National Drug Laws Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
The symposium, which was the first of its kind in the history of the sports writing family in Nigeria, was held at the Golfview Suites and Conference Center in Ikeja, Lagos, South West Nigeria on Wednesday. It had as its title, “Workshop Symposium Against the Use of Illicit Substances, Drug Abuse and Doping”.
The event was also made possible through the support from the Lagos State Ministry of Health, NAFDAC, Federal Ministry of Sports Development, Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) Golfview Suites and Conference Center and National Anti-Doping Committee NADC.
Chairman of Lagos SWAN, Ms Olatutu Oladunni commended the NDLEA for believing in the platform provided by SWAN for the agency to advocate against drug abuses among Nigerian athletes at a period when dope case is rampant in world sports.
While commending the leadership of the NDLEA headed by Brig. Gen (Rtd) Buba Marwa, the Lagos State Government, the NAFDAC, National Anti-Doping Committee and other partners that made the symposium a success, Oladunni noted that media would go a long way in pushing the war against drugs and illicit substances deeper into the grassroots in the country. She assured that Lagos SWAN would continue to support the fight.
Zonal Director, Zone H of the NDLEA, Dr, Segun Oke, who declared the workshop open on behalf of the Chairman and CEO of the NDLEA, Brig. Gen (Rtd) Buba Marwa noted that the reason athletes engage in doping for any competition is to take advantage to win a laurel, and “it is like bringing another person to win a medal. Using drugs for any tournament is like the athletes’ sourcing for artificial success which is more or less cheating,” Dr Oke said.
The NDLEA’s Director warned that doping brings with it artificial problems, disgrace and embarrassment, adding that Nigerian athletes should play their sports clean by not engaging in drugs before or during competitions.
To Dr Gbenga Olowo, Chairman, SABRE West Africa and Central Africa Republic, who was a special guest of honour at the occasion, he berated the use of drugs to win laurels by sportsmen and women, warning that athletes don’t need to take drugs as there are alternatives to making money in sports, even as he called on the Nigerian government to look deeply into sports tourism where monetary revenue can be generated to the nation.
“It is unfortunate that tourism could only generate about one per cent of our GDP. This is not good considering what most countries across the world are making from tourism. I want the present government to focus more on tourism, especially sports tourism,” Olowo said.
ACGN Umar Isah Adoro, the State Commander, NDLEA, Lagos State Command, who was glad about the inspiration that brought about the symposium, hailed the leadership of Lagos SWAN for reaching out to the NDLEA for the organisation of the programme.
According to him, the platform of sports, which has been a unifying factor of Nigerian people over the years, is a veritable ground for the NDLEA to advocate its war against drugs in Nigeria.
“Our athletes have been very good ambassadors of the nation, and we would not want to see them cutting corners to win laurels. This is dangerous and the multiplier effects have always been worrisome and deadly,” he warned.
Commander Usman WADA, the Airport Commander, NDLEA, Lagos was of the opinion that many athletes who take drugs are doing it out of ignorance, adding that officials, most especially the coaches, may have lured them into believing that they are taking substances that would help them.
“It is very alarming with the way the youths involve in drugs and illicit substances these days, the NDLEA has not been resting on its oars, as we are winning the war,” he said.
Dr Ralph Okor, Deputy Director/Head Drug Testing at the National Anti-Doping Committee emphasised the dangerous consequences of doping to the athletes and the nation in his presentation titled, “Doping and Its Consequences in Sports” , and warned that it pays for the athletes to win on a clean slate than cheat with drugs.
The NDLEA’s presentation at the workshop symposium was delivered by DCN Chinyerem Eziaghighala, the Deputy Commander, Drug Demand Reduction, NDLEA Lagos State Command, where the officer elaborated the significance of the NDLEAs intervention in the spread of drug abuses in the country with the testimonial that the agency has been able to check this spread and enforce the laws against narcotics in the country.
According to her, the NDLEA will continue to record success in its works with the support of Nigeria and especially the media.
Other speakers at the symposium talked extensively about the dangers inherent in the abuses of drugs and doping in sports. One of the speakers is Dr Joy Mayaki, a senior lecturer at the National Institute for Sports (NIS), who holds a Ph.D. in Exercise and Sports Psychology. She is the Vice President of the Nigeria Sports Coaches Association, Treasurer of the National Association for Physical and Health Education, Recreation, Sports and Dance (NAPHERSD) and Treasurer of the National Association for Women in Sports (NAWIS).
Dr. Mayaki talked about Drug Use and Misuse: An Alternative Look to Combating the Scourge.
Others are Pharm. Mrs. Simisola Opanuga from the Lagos State Ministry of Health. She is the Secretary of the Lagos State Inter-Ministerial Drug Abuse Control Committee. She spoke on the Prevention Science of Drug Abuse.
The duo of Dr. Adebukola Bojuwoye and Dr Tajudeen Sule who are from the Ministry of Health but attached to the Lagos State Sports Commission spoke on the History of Doping in Sports, Doping in Sports New Era, Drug Abuse and Doping in Sports the Relationship and Illicit Substances.
The audience who included athletes, coaches, officials, journalists, NAFDAC officers and a team of NDLEA officers from the Lagos State Command, were enthusiastic about the topics of discussion, and it was generally agreed that while the Nigerian athletes are good at their respective sporting activities, they should refrain from cheating through doping as this could endanger their lives.