By Kauthar Anumba-Khaleel
Twelve years after Nigeria became signatory to the World Anti-Doping Agency, the House of Representatives yesterday, read for a second time, a bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Sports Anti-Doping agency.
The bill, sponsored by Hon. Douye Diri seeks the establishment of an agency responsible for carrying the functions of Nigeria Anti-Doping Organization as enshrined in the World Anti-Doping Code in accordance with the various international standards.
Leading the debate on the motion, Hon. Diri recalled that Nigeria since 2005 became a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code but is yet to establish an agency to that effect.
He noted the Code’s anti-dpoing rules are legally binding for signatories of the of which include National Anti-doping Organizations (NADOs), International Federations, or Olympic Movement Organizations like the IOC.
According to him, “Operating as Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs), signatories are obliged to ensure that all athletes under their authority are bound by and compliant with the code, but most countries Nigeria inclusive, bound themselves to the Code by ratifying the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in sport in Paris, from 3 to 21 October 2005.
“The objective of the bill is to amongst other things, comply with the express requirements of the WADA thereby prevent Nigeria from being declare non-compliant, provide for effective partnership with sports governing bodies to deliver clean sport as well as provide Nigerian athletes the opportunity to compete clean in their various fields”.
He stressed that failure to expressly pass the bill will likely result in the country falling foul of Article 23.5.5 of the Code, which stipulates that WADA will report tje declarations of non-compliance to sports Movement and UNESCO a situation he noted will have Nigeria banned from international sporting competitions.
Contributing to the bill, Hon. Bode Oyerinde expressed his support but wondered why a separate agency needed to be established to achieve this.
He advised that a department within the sports ministry be set aside to see to ant-doping regulations.
On his part, Hon. Nuhu Danburam noted the need for an agency to be established, adding it needs to be independent of the sports administrators and devoid of interference.
“We need an agency that should be kept away from sport administrators to avoid undue interference.
“The agency will sanitize our sports by ensuring that our athletes are not found wanting in the area of substance abuse.
Similarly, Hon. Mayowa Akinfolarin said that Nigeria’s lack of an anti-doping agency gives the impression that it does not understand the importance of the anti-doping code until it’s too late.
He also noted the importance of making the agency independent of other sports federations as it will also develop national strategy to fight doping, promote participation in sports, integrity and fairness in sports as well as publicise prohibited substances by the World Anti-doping Agency.
The bill was consequently referred to the committee on sports for further legislative input.