The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has finally sent the gold medal won by Nigeria’s 4×400 metres relay quartet at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, 13 years after.
Originally, the Nigerian quartet anchored by Enefiok Udo-Obong had won silver but following the disqualification of the USA quartet that won the gold for doping violation, the IOC had informed Nigeria of the reallocation of the medals.
The US had been disqualified because the late Antonio Pettigrew confessed to having used banned performance-enhancing drugs at the time. Therefore, Nigeria were elevated to the top position, Jamaica were promoted to silver and Bahamas the bronze.
In the IOC letter covering the dispatch of the medal and signed by Dr Jacques Rogge, the IOC President and addressed to the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) states.
“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.”
The letter was silent on the medals for the other members of the team- Clement Chukwu, late Sunday Bada and Jude Monye, probably because the trio are yet to return their silver medals to the IOC as directed.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr Emman Nweri, the Manager of NOC, said that Nigeria forwarded only the silver medal that was returned to it by Udo-Obong in line with the IOC’s directive.
The U.S.-based Chukwu confirmed in a telephone interview with NAN that he and other U.S.-based members of the team were yet to return their medals because they did not receive any official correspondence to that effect.
Udo-Obong said he returned the silver in 2012 four years after the IOC formally stripped the USA of the medals and reallocated them.
“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.
Though Pettigrew was disqualified in August 2008 but the IOC delayed a decision on the reallocation until it had received information stemming from investigations into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) sports-doping scandal, according to a statement from the IOC.
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.
Sadly 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.
Bada, who was the former world indoor 400m champion, dropped dead suddenly at the age of 42 on December 2011. He had waited in vain for the IOC decision on the re-allocation.