Doping, MRI and our sports

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(apologies for typos in previous post…pressed send too early!)

I love sports…even if I am not great at any myself. I love sports in the Nigerian context because it is the closest to a meritocracy most of us will get to experience living in Nigeria. I woke up on Sunday morning to the Nigerian papers and as usual our leaders never fail to disappoint you…The Guardian reported that “The President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua has handed a ‘presidential order’ to players and officials of the Super Eagles to go all out and secure victory against Tunisia in today’s 2010 World Cup qualifier in Abuja.” To the President, victory in today’s game is non-negotiable.

I though about the scandals in our sport in the last few weeks. How we were learning to cut corners to win despite the scrutiny to athletes these days. When last has our country of 150 million won a medal at a major sporting event? It has been a while. You see…you can bring Julius Berger to build you the best stadium in West Africa…but just like hospital buildings don’t treat patients…stadia do not produce good athletes.

I though about the scandals in our sport in the last few weeks. How we were learning to cut corners to win despite the scrutiny to athletes these days. When last has our country of 150 million won a medal at a major sporting event? It  has been a while. You see…you can bring Julius Berger to build you the best stadium in West Africa…but just like hospital buildings don’t treat patients…stadia do not produce good athletes.

Just a few weeks ago too, our youth team was exposed. Medical tests showed that they could not be anywhere close to the ages they were claiming. Well…this was not really news to any Nigerian. We have long known what the truth as many of us went to the same primary and secondary schools as our Under 17 “heroes”….but who would stick out his neck?  Doing so would be seen as terrible. We have come to accept the unacceptable. So yes I do love sports. Despite the doping and the age-cheating…it is still the closes to a meritocracy we will experience in our country.
And what happened to the president’s order to the “Super” Eagles….well what do you think? The chances are that the World Cup in South Africa may well happen with out us. But maybe we should make the point to FIFA. If one of every fifth African is really Nigerian….maybe we should have an automatic place?

A few years ago, we could no detect who was doping their way to success or cheating their ways to under aged championships…but now that we have found a way, meritocracy rules again!

http://www.nigeriahealthwatch.com/

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (www.epiafric.com), which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

Discussion1 Comment

  1. Hahahahahahahaha! Automatic place, you mean like David Mark and Co. I’m learning to laugh at some of Nigeria’s problems and issues. That way I won’t send myself to an early grave! Presidential order ko, ministerial order ni!

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