Enyimba have expressed their support for Austin Oladapo after their captain was banned for 12 months from all football-related activities as punishment for failing a doping test.
The Nigeria Professional Football League club responded to the Caf Disciplinary Board's decision on Thursday through a signed statement from their President Felix Anyansi-Agwu.
On Monday, the disciplinary board revealed that a banned substance "Prednisolone/Prednisone" was found in Oladapo's urine after undergoing a test in a Confederation Cup clash against Egyptian club Pyramids on May 16.
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Enyimba, in their reaction, maintained their zero tolerance for prohibited substances, even though the midfielder has started serving his ban since July 4.
“We received a letter from the Confederation of African Football informing us that our player, Austin Oladapo, has been suspended for 12 months for failing a doping test,” read the club’s statement.
“According to the letter, as well as previous correspondences on the issue, Oladapo’s urine sample, taken after the Caf Confederation Cup quarter-final first leg against Pyramids FC on May 16, 2021, tested positive for the banned substance Prednisolone.
“While we have been given the option to appeal the decision, it is pertinent to first clarify that as a club, we have a strict code of conduct that shows zero tolerance to hard drugs or any banned substance. That is why there had never been any record of a positive doping test for any of our players, either in the domestic or international competitions.”
The People's Elephants revealed that the 26-year-old was diagnosed with malaria and bronchitis prior to their continental fixtures, which made him undergo some treatment that could have left the banned substance in his body system.
It continued: “As we already pointed out in our communication to Caf, Oladapo, before the game against Pyramids, had been on preventive Covid-specific treatment after being diagnosed with malaria with bronchitis. It was indicated in his medical report, which was also attached to our letter to Caf, that “some of the treatment given in this regard are steroidal and could reveal prednisolone in his tribe sample test”.
“Although we have not been made aware of the percentage of the substance concentration in his urine, we believe that any trace of it would have resulted from the prescribed medication.
“In following this matter, Enyimba FC will consider all available options, but will in the meantime continue to stand with and defend our star midfielder, who over the years has shown exceptional discipline and character worthy of our revered captain’s armband.”
Oladapo joined Enyimba from Gombe United back in 2017 and he has established himself as one of the key players in Fatai Osho's team.
They went on to reiterate their trust in the Nigeria international’s professionalism.
“It is also important to state that the player in question is a true professional who strongly upholds and has always abided by the high standards of our club; and it was for this reason, alongside his exceptional leadership on and off the pitch, that he was chosen as captain of our team,” the statement continued.
“We are therefore convinced that a player who over his four years with us has shown such an exemplary level of moral and professional discipline which could not have knowingly taken the said substance.
“Also worthy of note is the fact that the player has had a clean doping record, having been subjected to tests on previous occasions in Caf Competitions – CARA Brazzaville vs Enyimba (2018) and the 2018 Chan in Morocco. On both occasions, the tests returned negative.”