Paralympic record holder and 2018 Commonwealth gold medallist Roland Ezuruike has been banned for 18 months by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for committing an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV).
The Imo state born Para-athlete will be ineligible for any competition from 17 August 2020 to 16 February 2022, the IPC said, ruling one of Nigeria’s surest medal hopefuls out of the rescheduled Tokyo Games.
The IPC in a statement said Ezuruike who broke the Paralympics record in the men’s 54kg event at the 2016 Rio games was found to have fallen foul of the “whereabouts” rule which stipulates an athlete must make their location known at specific times for out of competition testing.
Ezuruike, the IPC said, failed to disclose his whereabouts between 12 April 2019 and 9 March 2020 and missed a mandatory test.
The 41-year-old thereby broke article 2.4 of the IPC Anti-Doping Code Article which states that “any combination of three (3) missed tests and/or filing failures within a twelve-month period by an Athlete in a Registered Testing Pool shall be considered an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV)”.
He is also the first athlete to be sanctioned by the IPC for a whereabouts violation.
“The athlete was found to have committed an ADRV pursuant to IPC Anti-Doping Code Article 2.4 of the IF Rules: whereabouts failures by an athlete,” an IPC statement said.
“Ezuruike is part of the IPC Registered Testing Pool, which is a selected group of athletes, required to make whereabouts filings in order to be located for out of competition testing.
“Between 12 April 2019 and 9 March 2020, Ezuruike was notified of two filing failures and a missed test. Article 2.4 states that any combination of three (3) missed tests and/or filing failures within a twelve-month period by an Athlete in a Registered Testing Pool shall be considered an ADRV.
“As a result of the whereabouts violation, Ezuruike received an 18-month period of Ineligibility from 17 August 2020 to 16 February 2022. This represents the first sanction related to a whereabouts violation by the IPC.”
The ban will come as a severe setback for Ezuruike, one of Nigeria’s brightest para-powerlifters who has won gold in every event since taking silver at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth games.
The two-time African Champion won his maiden Commonwealth Games title in Gold Coast, Australia, and claimed gold at the ninth Fazza World Cup in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
In 2017 he won his first World Championship title in the men’s up to 54kg with a 180kg lift. One year earlier, Ezuruike also topped the podium at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games where he set a world record with a 200kg lift.