Olusoji Fasuba is backing Bamidele Emmanuel’s decision to switch his international allegiance to another country.
The PUNCH exclusively reported on Tuesday that Emmanuel, who is listed on the 37-man squad for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, left the national team’s camp in Port Harcourt ahead of the Games without permission.
The Athletics Federation of Nigeria technical director Sunday Adeleye, who confirmed the development, said the AFN had reported the incident to the International Association of Athletics Federations.
Adeleye said, “It is true that Emmanuel is missing from camp, we have not been able to trace his whereabouts for some days now. But we don’t want to believe that he is making a move to switch to another country as we heard.
“The AFN has reported the development to IAAF for them to halt any move by any country to poach our athletes based on the existing rule.”
Sources close to the 400m runner claimed that he had sealed a deal to represent Qatar.
The Middle East has become a more popular destination for top Nigerian sprinters after Femi Ogunode (100m, 200m) dumped the country for Qatar in 2009. Oluwakemi Adekoya (400m) also switched nationality to the oil-rich Bahrain in 2014 to rule the 400m and 400m hurdles at the Asian Games.
The AFN is reportedly probing the circumstances leading to Emmanuel’s disappearance from camp, with the officials vowing to punish anyone who aided his exit.
“We cannot invest in an athlete and a country from nowhere will come and reap where they did not sow,” Adeleye said.
And Fasuba, who moved to Britain to join the Royal Navy after he was snubbed by the AFN for the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Doha, Qatar, launched a scathing attack on the Nigerian body over the comments attributed to the federation chief.
“What!! Did I just hear the AFN say that they have invested in the athlete?” the 33-year-old, who helped Nigeria win bronze at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday night.
“Are they kidding me? I might not say much these days but honestly Bamidele, I wish you luck as you are on the right path.
“A country that fails to prepare to support their athletes the right way — not just put them in a so-called camp and barely feed them – is a country that will end up with no athlete.”
The Valencia 2008 IAAF World Indoor Championships gold medallist warned IAAF not to stop Emmanuel from realising his dream of representing a country capable of providing him the opportunity to improve his career.
“I hope IAAF does not listen to all these lies from the federation and not stop the progress of a young athlete,” he said.
Fasuba added, “It’s so bad now, I thought the present crop of people in the federation had plans. I know they have a big hurdle to jump, but they seem to want to try and go under the hurdle.”
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