Peter Dada, Akure
The vice-president of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Olamide George, has accused the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, of “victimising” him.
The ministry suspended George from all athletics-related activities pending the completion of the investigation into the allegations of drugs violations levelled against him by a member of the AFN Tafida Gadzama.
In his petition to IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency, Sydney 2000 Olympic Games gold medallist Gadzama alleged doping violations against George and an athlete Sade Abugan during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India.
Dalung on Tuesday in Abuja inaugurated a five-man committee headed by Pius Oteh to investigate Gadzama’s allegations.
But speaking with our correspondent in a telephone interview on Wednesday, Olamide who is an All Progressives Congress lawmaker in the Ondo State House of Assembly, declared that he would not appear before the panel if the probe would take place behind closed doors.
He said, “After about six years that a petition was written, they have set up a panel to investigate a 2010 matter in which the girl in question has served a doping ban, and because of the credibility of those in the panel, I appeared before them in 2012 and the panel gave their report and exonerated me because the lady did not have admissible evidence.
“I don’t know why the minister is victimising me, if there is an issue within the AFN board, I expect the minister to call us together and settle it. He should not take sides or be tribalistic. If the minister is setting up a panel now, what happened to the earlier report? He has already accused me of improper conduct that means he has said his mind so why should I appear before such panel.
“The minister is setting up another panel, forgetting that a similar panel was set up by his ministry. It is a matter of common sense, if there is an anti-doping issue, the AFN as a body has its own anti-doping committee, why is the minister not following the report from the anti-doping committee of the AFN?”
However, the lawmaker said he would only appear before the probe committee if journalists are allowed to cover the event.
“It must be a public hearing for the whole world to see what the minister is doing. I cannot appear a panel in an enclosed place,” Olamide said.
But Nneka Anibeze, media aide to the minister, dismissed Olamide’s allegation that Dalung set up the probe panel to victimise him.
According to her, the minister decided to act following Gadzama’s allegations.
“The investigation committee has NAFDAC and ministry of Judiciary officials,” Anibeze said on the telephone.
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