BY OLUGBENGA SOYELE, Lagos
Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court in Lagos has nullified the four-year ban placed on a United States of America 1968 double Olympic champion, Dr Lee Edward Evans, by the Athletes Federation of Nigeria (AFN) in 2014.
Justice Faji, who quashed the ban while ruling on a suit brought against AFN by the American, held that the suspension was unlawful and inconsistent with natural justice.
The national Athletes body had imposed the ban on Evans while he was working as an athletics consultant for the Lagos State Government six years ago.
The judge set aside the report of the AFN’s anti-doping committee fair hearing panel which sat on February 17, 2014, for being speculative, devoid of fair hearing and having been arrived at in a manner unknown to law.
AFN had handed down the punishment on the foreigner and a youth coach Abass Rauf who got a life ban on the allegation that they gave banned substances to an athlete that may have been responsible for her failing a doping test.
But in his judgment, Justice Faji awarded N46.4 million in favour of the former Olympian, being the total money and special damages, which he ought to have earned within the four years that his appointment was unlawfully suspended.
The judge further restrained the AFN from further preventing the 73-year-old from practicing his trade or profession in Nigeria.
Evans, the first human to run a 400 metres race under 45 seconds and whose world records at the Mexico ‘68 Games stood for 20 years.
Evans, who is also a medical doctor had denied the allegation,insisting that he only gave “supplements” in February and March 2013 to the girl for her “health” and those substances were not prohibited.
Dissatisfied, with the decision of the probe panel set up by the AFN,the American instituted the suit against the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Minister of Sports, who is also the chairman,National Sports Commission (NSC), AFN and Dr Anugweje.
In their defence, the AFN and Ken had prayed the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s suit for lack of jurisdiction.