By O. Bola
One of the popular medium in the country that prides itself on the best of investigative journalism have shockingly fall cheaply for the lies of drug cheat runner, Mary Akor.
A little bit of fact checking with Google would have saved medium the embarrassment of presenting lies as the truth as the facts are there for all to see.
The Nigerian prize was instituted by the organizers of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon to encourage Nigerian runners to participate in the marathon so that they can catch up with their counterparts from other parts of the world.
They believe, and rightly so, that Nigeria has the potential to excel in marathons.
After all, about three decades ago, when the world record was 2.08, Abass Mohammed, a Nigerian, was running 2.15.
Mary Akor, an American athlete, participated in the 2016 edition like other foreign athletes.
Akor placed 9th overall in the women’s category and she was paid $4000, being the prize money for the ninth-place runner.
Akor attempted to collect the N1Million prize money for the first Nigerian woman to cross at the finish, not the three million she claimed.
But she and her manager, Tony Osheku, were politely informed that she is not a Nigerian athlete as she had dumped Nigeria for the USA in 2004.
At the peak of her career, Akor chose to change allegiance from representing Nigeria to USA.
When Akor wanted to claim first prize in 2016, she was informed that she needs to write to the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN that she wants to start representing Nigeria again.
For those not in the know, there is a process involved in the change of allegiance in athletics involving an athlete representing a country to choose to represent another.
Akor, a Nigerian athlete, agreed with the United States Track and Field Association to start representing USA from 2004.
The USATF wrote AFN, appealing for her release, with the IAAF, the governing body of athletics in the world, as the intermediary.
From 2004, Akor ceased to be a Nigerian athlete.
In fact, after she failed in her attempt to collect the Nigerian prize in 2016, she was advised to formally write the AFN that she wants to change her allegiance from representing the USA to representing Nigeria but till date, Akor has not done the needful.
So it was a huge surprise for athletics buffs when Akor forced her way to the podium when the first three Nigerian women: Deborah Pam, Olude Fadekemi and Olamide Oluwaseun were called to the podium to receive their prizes.
Akor, an athlete who dumped Nigeria at the peak of her career for whatever reasons jumped on the podium to claim a prize for Nigerian runners.
The security men did not manhandle her, they just carried her away from the podium and when she insisted on causing commotion, top officials of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon asked that she be allowed to stand on the podium since all she will be collecting at the ceremony is a dummy cheque.
The Access Bank Lagos City Marathon is an IAAF label race, it is impossible to deny an athlete prize money that they won. If Akor has a genuine case, let her write to the IAAF or CAS but she will never do that because she knows the rules.
Assuming that Nigerians are probably not aware of the IAAF rules concerning change of allegiance and her current status, she will continue to propagate falsehood.
It is a pity that one of the country’s reputable online medium could fall for Mary Akor’s cheap blackmail and lies when a simple act of fact-checking with Google or the organizers would probably have saved them the embarrassment.
Akor, an athlete who recently was banned for two years for using performance-enhancing drugs could face a stiffer penalty if the organizers of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon decides to report her to IAAF for unruly behaviour that could tarnish the good image of athletics.