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Tokyo Olympics: 10 Nigerian Athletes Banned For Not Meeting Testing Requirements

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The chances of Nigeria winning medals at the Tokyo Olympics have been dealt a big blow with the declaration of 10 of the country’s athletes as ineligible to compete.

A statement on Wednesday from the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), an independent body created by World Athletics that manages all integrity issues – both doping and non-doping – revealed that a total of 18 athletes have been declared ineligible.

Nigeria is the most affected country, not meeting the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15 for 10 athletes.

The AIU explained that under the framework of Rule 15 governing National Federation Anti-Doping Obligations, which came into force in January 2019, National Federations are accountable for ensuring appropriate anti-doping measures are in place in their respective jurisdictions.

Among other things, the rule sets out minimum requirements for testing for the national teams of ‘Category A’ federations deemed to have the highest doping risk and considered as a threat to the overall integrity of the sport.

The key requirement in Rule 15 is that an athlete from a ‘Category A’ country must undergo at least three no-notice out-of-competition tests (urine and blood) conducted no less than three weeks apart in the 10 months leading up to a major event.

Only then do they become eligible to represent their national team at the World Athletics Championships or the Olympic Games.

For the year 2021, the seven identified ‘Category A’ National Federations are Belarus, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and Ukraine.

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria, which has been plunged into needless crises in the last 14 months is, thus, highly culpable in this development.

“National Federations must play their part in supporting anti-doping efforts. The eligibility rules for athletes from ‘Category A’ countries are very clear and compliance is essential for cementing the required long-term changes and ensuring a level playing field for clean athletes,” said David Howman, Chair of the AIU Board.

“I must underline that there have been significant improvements in anti-doping efforts in most ‘Category A’ countries thanks to this rule. It is clear that the relevant National Federations in conjunction with their NADOs have started to take their testing responsibilities seriously, and I thank them for their efforts, but there remains a long way to go in some circumstances,” he added.

Nigeria was included in Category A at the start of 2020 following a continued period of weak domestic testing levels.

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NFF, Premier Lotto Sign $972,053 Partnership Agreement

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The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has signed a N400 million deal, about $972,053 with Premier Lotto also known as Baba Ijebu, the latest in the past couple of weeks.

President of the NFF, Amaju Pinnick stated this on Monday when he featured on ARISE News’ The Morning Show. The partnership will run for an initial renewable three years.

Mr. Pinnick said the deals have been made possible because of the integrity posture of Nigeria football. He had also led the federation in sealing deals with the leading airline, Air Peace as the Official Airline of Nigerian National Teams, and with MTN as the Official Communications Partner of the Super Eagles and the National Teams.

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Lionel Messi Join Paris Saint-Germain On A Two-Year Contract After Leaving Barcelona

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The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is traveling to Paris on Tuesday afternoon to seal his move to the French club on a deal worth £25m per year after tax, plus bonuses.

Messi had two other options after leaving Barcelona last week but has opted to move to PSG, who will have the option of extending his stay in the French capital by the third year

Lionel Messi to sign a two-year deal worth £25m per year after tax with PSG; 34-year-old will have the option to extend the deal by a third-year and will receive a £25m signing-on fee; Messi was set to sign a new five-year contract at Barcelona but the club was unable to complete the deal

Messi was set to extend his 21-year stay at Barcelona by signing a new five-year deal this summer.

However, the club announced on Thursday that “financial and structural obstacles” meant the deal could not be completed, meaning Messi left as a free agent.

The 34-year-old said he wanted to stay at Barcelona and “did everything” he could to remain at the club, including agreeing to a 50-per-cent wage cut.

However, Barcelona is hamstrung by La Liga’s rules on club spending and even halving Messi’s pay was not enough to ensure he remained at the Nou Camp.

Messi is now set to join PSG, with their potential to compete for major trophies – including the Champions League – understood to be a key factor in his decision to move to France.

Messi is also believed to be keen to reunite with Neymar, with whom he won two La Liga titles, three Copa del Reys and the Champions League during their time together at Barcelona.

Asked about a move to PSG at his farewell press conference last weekend, Messi said: “That is one possibility, to reach those heights.

“I had a lot of calls, a lot of interested clubs. At the moment, nothing is closed, but we are talking about a lot of things.”

Messi said he did not want to leave Barcelona in an emotional farewell news conference on Sunday.

Messi was in tears as he received a standing ovation in his final Barcelona press conference to announce the end of his 21 years with the club.

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Lionel Messi to Exit Barcelona Club After 17 Years

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Barcelona announced on Thursday that Lionel Messi is leaving the club after “financial and structural obstacles” made it impossible to renew his contract. The footballer, who has spent his whole career with the club, had been expected to re-sign after his deal expired in June.

A statement from the club said; “Despite FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles (Spanish Liga regulations),”

“As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled.”

“FC Barcelona wholeheartedly expresses its gratitude to the player for his contribution to the aggrandisement of the club and wishes him all the very best for the future in his personal and professional life.”

Last month Messi agreed in principle to a five-year deal on reduced wages rather than a two-year extension initially discussed. It had been hoped the agreement would keep Barcelona within the boundaries of La Liga’s financial fair play regulations but that has proved impossible.

Barcelona needed to move players out to renew Messi’s deal and they have not been able to find the solution. The club, whose total debt is about €1,173m, is constrained by the league’s salary cap. Messi has agreed to a 50 percent pay cut, dropping from about €45m basic, after-tax, to closer to €20m.

The question is where Messi, who was 34 in June, will play next season. He tried to leave Barcelona in August 2020 after a breakdown in his relationship with then president Josep Maria Bartomeu but was forced to stay. Now, when he was keen to continue for longer, it appears he is being made to go.

Messi has made 778 appearances for Barcelona, scoring a remarkable 672 goals which have helped to claim 10 league titles, four Champions Leagues and three Club World Cups among his haul of 35 trophies

This latest development comes just eight days before the La Liga 2021/22 season kicks off.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta held a press conference after the club released a statement saying that could not sign Messi to a new contract due to La Liga rules over the size of the salary.

“We are over the salary limit that we are allowed. It is as simple as that,” Laporta confirmed.

The president said that Messi was told two days ago that the club could not continue with his new contract, which they planned to be for two years and they asked to spread the cost of that contract over five years.

Barcelona’s president said “I like to dream, but we have to live in the reality” when asked if Messi could play for Barcelona again if Financial Fair Play rules are relaxed by La Liga.

Laporta insisted that Messi and the club reached an agreement on a new contract but Spanish league rules won’t allow him to sign due to the financial situation the new club president inherited from former president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the mess they were left in.

“We have 122 years of history. We’ve been through everything and we’ve always come through. We want the post-Messi era to be very successful and I am convinced it will be,” Laporta said.

Laporta added that La Liga could be more flexible to make Messi’s new deal happen, as he repeatedly slammed their planned deal to sell 10 percent of the league to CVC Capital Partners from the USA.

“In the Spanish La Liga we have to abide by the rules. We think they can be more flexible. That is not an excuse, we knew the rules. We can’t abide by it. Leo deserves everything. He loves Barca. I’m sad but I’m convinced we’ve done best for FC Barcelona,” Laporta insisted.

“I can’t make a decision that will impact the club for the next 50 years,” Laporta added about the La Liga deal over the TV rights. “The club is over 100 years old and it is above everyone and everything. Even above the best player in the world. We will always thank him for everything he has done for us.”

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