SWITCHING allegiance to another country is not a crime for an athlete, but switching off one’s awareness system can be disastrous.
For Nigeria-born Qatari sprinter Samuel Francis Adelebari, it has been a journey from fame to shame. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended him last week for failing a dope test, following reanalysis of his samples from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“Samuel Francis, 29, of Qatar, competing in 100M, in which he ranked 16th, and the 200M event in which he did not start, has been disqualified from the Olympic Games Beijing 2008. Reanalysis of his samples resulted in a positive test for the prohibited substance stanozolol,” said a statement from the IOC which was e-mailed to all major media houses, including Doha Stadium Plus.
“The IOC Disciplinary Commission, comprising Denis Oswald (chairman), Gunilla Lindberg and Ugur Erdener, said the IAAF was asked to modify the results of the above-mentioned events accordingly and to consider any further action within its own competence,” the statement added.
It also said the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) should ensure full implementation of this decision, which enters into force immediately.
It may be recalled that following the alleged State-sponsored doping in Russia, the IOC had decided to conduct additional analyses on samples collected during the Olympic Games in Beijing (2008) and London (2012) in order to provide a level playing field for all clean athletes at the Rio Games.
The IOC put special measures in place, including targeted pre-tests and the reanalysis of stored samples from Beijing and London.
The new tests were performed with improved analytical methods, in order to possibly detect prohibited substances that could not be identified by previous analyses.
It was a fall from hero to zero for Adelebari. He switched allegiance to Qatar in 2007 and in the same year won gold in 60M at the Macau Asian Indoor Championships.
He also won a gold (100M) and silver (4x100M relay) at the Asian Championships (outdoor) in Amman (2007) as he announced his arrival on the Asian circuit with a bang.
He claimed the 60M gold in 2008 (Doha), 2010 (Tehran) and 2014 (Guanzhou) to become the undisputed indoor spring king in Asia. But the positive test has not only disgraced him, but also brought Qatar’s name into disrepute.
The remains of Adelebari’s A sample were subjected to an initial reanalysis early this year and it indicated the potential presence of prohibited substance stanozolol.
On May 18, 2016, the athlete was informed through the QOC about this and checked the possibility of his presence at the opening of the B-sample and its analysis. But, on May 22, Adelebari (through QOC) indicated that he would not be attending neither personally nor through a representative.
“I haven’t intentionally taken the said substance. I shall not attend (the proceedings),” Adelebari wrote to the Disciplinary Committee.
He also added, “Every supplement I took then was given to me by my coach Yanko Bratanov (Bulgaria). I was young, naive and didn’t know exactly what was given to me. He said I should trust him, no questions asked.”
Based on Adelebari’s reply, it is implied that Bratanov would have convinced the Qatar Athletics Federation (QAF) that the athlete would be able to run the 100M in 9.8sec at Beijing and from that time the coach provided him with nutritional supplements. But when Adelebari started training under a new coach (former Nigerian sprinter Innocent Egbunike) after the Olympics, where he reached the semifinal, he realised that he was not capable of running as fast as before and suspected he was given steroids by Bratanov.
Adelebari submitted to the IOC that he suffered mental and physical damage due to the steroids that were given to him. He also indicated that he had multiple injuries and lost his confidence.
However, one cannot take his submission on face value as he went on to win the 60M indoor gold in 2010 and 2014.
Obviously, the IOC Disciplinary Commission did not accept his explanations which, it said, only confirmed him to have used the prohibited substance. It also accused him of being “grossly negligent.”
The IOC rule, applicable in this case, says that “It is each athlete’s personal duty to ensure that no prohibited substance enters his/her body.”
QAF President Dahlan Al Hamad said he was shocked and disappointed about the outcome and that the federation would take appropriate action against the guilty.
“He (Adelebari) has already retired, but we’ll suspend him as soon as we hear from the IAAF. We won’t tolerate any sort of indiscipline by any of our athletes,” said Dahlan.
Adelebari’s ban comes close to the arrest of Sudan-born Qatari Musaeb Abdulrahman Balla, the two-time Asian 800M champion, by Spanish police.
Balla had qualified for the Rio Games, but could not make it to Brazil as he was arrested along with Somalia-born coach Jama Aden, who was charged with having administered his wards with banned substances.
The disgraceful withdrawal by a couple of Qatari weightlifters (naturalised Bulgarians) at the last minute at Sydney Olympics also got Qatar some negative Press in 2000.
Are we not learning from our past mistakes? How can we be associated with tainted coaches? Who is selecting them? On what basis are we choosing athletes for naturalisation? Are they real medal prospects? How many of them have got us medals? These are some of the questions raised by veteran athletes and mediapersons.
Will someone answer? DSP