The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has sent the gold medal won by Nigeria’s 4×400 metres relay quartet at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games following the disqualification for doping violation of the U.S. squad, the original winners.
The IOC letter covering the dispatch of the medal and signed by Dr Jacques Rogge, the IOC President, was addressed to the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC).
It reads: “I am pleased to send you this Olympic Gold for Mr Enefiok Udo-Obong, who was part of your men’s 4x400m now placed first in the athletics men’s 4×400 metres relay event? at the Games of the XXV11 Olympiad, Sydney 2000.
A copy of letter, which was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, was silent on the medals for the other members of the team.
NAN gathered that the IOC might have acted in the manner it did because they had yet to receive the silver medals from the other members of the team.
Mr Emman Nweri, the Manager of NOC, told NAN that Nigeria forwarded only the silver medal that was returned to it by Udo-Obong in line with the the IOC’s directive.
The others — late Sunday Bada, Jude Monye and Clement Chukwu — had failed to return theirs, he said.
The U.S.-based Chukwu confirmed in a telephone interview with NAN that he and other U.S.-based members of the team had yet to return their medals because they did not receive any official correspondence to that effect.
However, Udo-Obong expressed delight at the prospect of finally receiving the gold medal.
He told NAN that he had been informed by the NOC that his medal had arrived from the IOC.
“I feel very happy; I am elated by this development. It shows that destiny can only be delayed but cannot be denied.
“Ever since the information about the decision of the IOC came, I made efforts to confirm the authenticity of the news and I thank God it was true,” he said.
Udo-Obong said: “ although I am excited, it could have been appropriate if the entire team received the gold as one. The feat was a team effort’’.
“I submitted the silver since October 2012 but my teammates have yet to do so, because they didn’t believe it. They’ve lost confidence of ever receiving the medals,” he said.
Solomon Ogba, President of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) said he was happy that justice has been done to Nigeria.
He added that effort would be made by the federation to retrieve the silver medals from the other members of the squad so that the IOC could send the right medals.
NAN reports that the decision by the IOC’s Executive Board to reallocate the medals from 2000 came three years after they had decided to disqualify of the U.S.
They were disqualified because of the late Antonio Pettigrew confessing to having used banned performance-enhancing drugs at the time.
With Nigeria elevated to the top position, Jamaica were promoted to silver and Bahamas the bronze.
“Pettigrew was disqualified in August 2008 but the Executive Board delayed a decision on reallocation until it had received information stemming from investigations into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) sports-doping scandal,’’ said a statement from the IOC.
After returning his medal American, Michael Johnson, which meant he ended his career with four Olympic gold rather than five, claimed “I feel cheated, betrayed and let down’’ by Pettigrew.
Two years later, Pettigrew was found dead in the back seat of his locked car in Chatham County, North Carolina, and evidence of sleeping pills was found by police.
An autopsy report later stated that he had committed suicide by overdosing on a medication containing diphenhydramine.
Ironically too, Nigeria’s Bada, who ran the third leg of the race at which they set a national record of 2min 58.68secs died in 2011.