By Robert Egbe
A Federal High Court in Lagos has nullified a four-year ban imposed on an American 1968 double Olympic champion, Dr Lee Edward Evans, by the Athletes Federation of Nigeria (AFN) in 2014.
Justice Ayokunle Faji held that the suspension – imposed while Evans was working as an athletics consultant for the Lagos State Government – was unlawful and inconsistent with natural justice.
The judge set aside the report of the AFN’s anti-doping committee fair hearing panel which sat on February 17, 2014, for being speculative, devoid of fair hearing and having been arrived at in a manner unknown to law.
Justice Faji also awarded N46,430,000.00 in favour of the former Olympian, being the total money and special damages, which he ought to have earned within the four years that his appointment was unlawfully suspended.
The judge also restrained the AFN from further preventing the 73-year-old from practicing his trade or profession in Nigeria.
Evans, the first human to run 400m under 45 seconds and whose world track records at the Mexico ‘68 Games stood for 20 years, was punished alongside youth coach Abass Rauf who got a life ban.
Evans, who is also a medical doctor, was alleged to have given a prohibited performance-enhancing substance to a 16-year-old Nigerian athlete.
According to the AFN, Evans and Rauf gave banned substances to the athlete that may have been responsible for her failing a doping test.
But Evans disagreed. He said he gave “supplements” in February and March 2013 to the girl for her “health” and those substances were not prohibited.
Dissatisfied, with the panel’s decision, he instituted a suit against the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF); Minister of Sports, who is also the chairman, National Sports Commission (NSC); AFN and Dr Anugweje, who were listed as first to fourth defendants in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/1211/2014.
In their defence, the AFN and Ken prayed the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s suit for lack of jurisdiction.
But in a December 21, 2020 judgment seen by The Nation yesterday, Justice Faji dismissed the defendants’ preliminary objections and nullified the American’s suspension.
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