The decision by Sports Minister, John Owan Enoh, to appoint former Technical Director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Sunday Adeleye, as his executive assistant, seems to be causing disaffection among some top Nigerian athletes.

The Minister announced Adeleye last week as one of his aides. However, some top Nigerian athletes have kicked against Adeleye’s appointment, claiming that he caused so much havoc in the nation’s athletics when he served as AFN’s technical director.

Some of the athletes, who spoke with The Guardian, yesterday, said the minister ought to have looked into Adeleye’s records before appointing him as one of his aides.

“The appointment of Adeleye as executive assistant by the sports minister is a mismatch,” the athlete said angrily. “This same Adeleye was indicted by the report of a review committee set up to investigate Nigeria’s poor performance at Doha 2019 World Athletics Championships. He was sacked as AFN technical director by the immediate past Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, over his alleged gross misconduct. How come this new minister is picking him as his executive assistant? We won’t take this.”

Another athlete said: “I can’t understand the yardstick behind his choice as executive assistant by the new minister. One major problem we have in this country is that many Nigerians forget so easily. I am sure the sports minister did not follow the fiasco at the Tokyo Olympic Games, where 10 Nigerian athletes were declared ineligible to compete by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

“They athletes were disqualified from the final entries for the Olympics for failing to meet the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15 of the Anti-Doping Rules. The Rule 15 governing National Federation Anti-Doping Obligations came to fore in January 2019, and Adeleye was AFN’s Technical Director. He failed to ensure appropriate anti-doping measures were conducted on athletes prior to the Tokyo Olympics.

“Nigeria was placed under Category ‘A’ under his tenure, and the key requirement in Rule 15 is that an athlete from a ‘Category A’ country must undergo at least three no-notice out-of-competition tests (urine and blood) conducted not less than three weeks apart in the 10 months leading to a major event.

Adeleye failed to do so and Nigeria was embarrassed in Doha. There were other issues like the secret signing of PUMA contract on behalf of Nigeria,” the athlete stated.

Also speaking on the issue, U.S.-based AFN board member and Performance Director, Victor Okorie, said: “To me, the athletes have every reason to complain because they follow day-to-day happenings in Nigeria’s athletics.

“However, I think the sports minister must have done his research, but this complain coming from the athletes should be looked into.” Efforts to speak with Adeleye on the issue, were however, unsuccessful.

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