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Nigerian athletes to have age-tests before Youth Olympics

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April 7 - Nigerian athletes selected to compete in the inaugural Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore later this year will have to undergo an MRI test to confirm that they are young enough to take part so that they do not get caught up in similar controversy to that involving the country's footballers, including Nwankwo Kanu.

Nigeria's successful youth football teams have been the subject of speculation for many years that they have picked players older than they claim to be.

Nigerian players were forced to undergo Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) tests before the FIFA Under-17 World Cup last year and up to 16 were prevented from taking part when it was discovered that they were older than claimed.

Competitors for Singapore will now have to undergo a similar test to try to ensure that they are under the age of 18 for the Games which are due to open on August 14.

National Sports Commission (NSC) director general Patrick Ekej said: "We don't want our country to be disgraced.

"Only eligible athletes will be presented."

Already, nine boxers selected by the Nigeria Boxing Federation selected for a qualifying tournament for Singapore in Baku, Azerbaijan, later this month have been tested by the NSC sports medicine department.

It is expected that that Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) will also be asked to test the athletes who are currently in camp at Oghara Delta State preparing for the Youth Olympic trials in Dakar, Senegal, next month.

A spokesman for the AFN said: "We have not been notified yet by the NSC or NOC (Nigerian Olympic Committee) concerning the MRI test.

"But if they do we will test the athletes we have in camp."

Nigeria have won the FIFA under-17 World Cup three times - 1985, 1993 and 2007 - but fans and media alike have long questioned the ages of some of the players that had represented the country in those competitions.

The ages of a number of top Nigerian players has come under the spotlight in recent years, including Kanu, a member of the Nigerian team who won the Olympic gold medals at Atlanta in 1996, and who has won the European Cup with Ajax, Premiership with Arsenal and FA Cup with Portsmouth.


MRI testing - which is usually conducted on the wrist - is estimated to be up to 86 per cent accurate.


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