*Probe set up to slam alleged culprits
*My coach wanted to sleep with me –Gloria Moses
*She is a bloody liar – Sefi Onubaye
By Olajide Fashikun
For the umpteenth time, the sexual scandal that sneaked into public view like a carefully delivered smelly fart has continued to dog the Nigeria Weightlifting Federation (NWF) which has ben forced to conduct a public inquiry, vowing to unravel the circumstances surrounding the allegations of a United States-based athlete who claimed she was sexually harassed by a national coach.
US-based Gloria Moses alleged that she was dropped from a trip to an international tournament in 2013 on a trumped up charge of drug usage, insisting it was orchestrated by a coach who wanted to sleep with her.
This is not the first time weightlifting team would be linked with a sex scandal. Public demand for the unravelling of the truth behind this last allegation has forced the sleepy President of NWF, Chibudom Nwuche, a former member of the House of Representatives to act.
He promised to launch an investigation into the serial allegation and counter allegations. He said that his federation would not condone such “heinous act and would not spare the rod for a culpable coach or athlete or whoever is caught in the web.”
He added that he was aware such thing was prevalent before he joined the federation. “when we came on board as a federation one of the things we tried to do was to eliminate this kind of thing. I told the athletes to report to me any coach that attempts to sexually harass them, we told them such coaches will not only be sanctioned but handed over to the police for prosecution”
According to the former deputy Speaker of the Green Chambers, “I can tell you that up till now we have not had such a case under my watch. I have not heard about this case before, but I will talk to the secretary General of the Federation, Madam Uche Onwumeh, who is in charge of the day-to-day running of the federation and we are going to set up a committee to investigate this. If any coach is found guilty, we will not hesitate to punish him.”
“We are making so much effort to develop the sport; I spend my personal money to ensure our teams attend international competitions and we cannot allow this in our game.”
She is a bloody liar: Weightlifting coach, Sefi Onubaye, who was a former athlete representing Kwara and later, Kogi state, in a telephone interview with www.gongnews.net claimed that Gloria Moses on her sexual harassment claims saying the athlete lied.
Onubaye claimed that Gloria tested positive for banned substances, “she is a controversial athlete. She is not telling the truth. I was the only female coach of that team. We kept all the athletes in camp, but she just took her bag and left.
“If it was true, why can’t she confide in me as a female coach and a former weightlifter myself. It was in the morning of the next day that I discovered that she had actually absconded from camp. When I called her, she said that she wanted to attend a competition outside Nigeria.
“I then reminded her that the national trial was going to be in two days’ time and why did she leave the camp without consultation? I also queried her for not telling me because I would have advised her rightly.”
She quipped that “Gloria was an athlete with controversial reputation and wouldn’t have kept such sexual harassment claim without reporting to the relevant authorities assuming she couldn’t tell me.
“We conducted a dope test for all the athletes and when the results came out, she was one of those that tested positive. We sent a letter to her state, Bayelsa and the records are there.
“She is a type of athlete that cannot tolerate all those things if it really happened. She would have spoken out and accused whoever that is involved. She is not an athlete that would have kept the mute. She is a loud mouth.
“She does not have the patience to keep such a thing. I’ve coached her for over 10 years and I know the type of athlete she is,” she added.
Asked if the weightlifter was given fair hearing on the doping allegation, the coach said: “she threw herself out of the camp even before the result came. I suspect she knew what she did and rather than be caught offered to escape from camp.
“The only thing she said was that they framed her up that she took drugs. I told her she was not the only one that tested positive, how can she be framed up? I always tell my female athletes to report any such intimidation to me if it happens which she did not.”
My coach wanted to sleep with me: The US-based Nigerian weightlifter had in the beginning told journalists that she relocated to the United States late last year after a national coach tried severally to sleep with her before she could be allowed to represent her country.
Moses claimed that after she refused the coach’s sexual overtures, she was framed up for drugs usage and was dropped from the national camp in 2013, while preparing for a championship in Malaysia.
“They said I tested positive (for drugs) in 2013. If they didn’t throw me out of camp and tried to frustrate me, I would have been an Olympian today. I would have qualified for the Rio Olympics. Why did they do all these? Because Gloria Moses is a stubborn lifter who won’t sleep with her coach,” the athlete, who won three gold at the Rivers 2011 National Sports Festival, said.
“They said I tested positive. But after the dope test I had, a letter should have been sent to my state (Bayelsa) and another to me. But I didn’t get a copy of the result of the dope test. I requested for the said result, afterall, I am entitled to a B test but nobody gave me any till now. The frustration was too much; that’s why I had to leave for America.
“In Nigeria, the coaches drop better female weightlifters for those that give them what they want. I’m okay with what they made me pass through; it was a challenge and it made me stronger.”
Moses, an orphan, added that the frustration that came with her expulsion from national camp almost made her commit suicide in Lagos.
The 2009 NSF triple silver medallist added, “I was targeting gold (in Malaysia) in the snatch and jack events because I was in very good form but the coach frustrated me, denied me the opportunity. I would have made some money if I won.
Thereafter, I couldn’t pay my rent and there was nobody to help me. If I had parents, they would have fought for me, but I had no one.
“Some male friends who knew my plight came to me and said, ‘let me give you N1,000 and sleep with you.’ I told them to go and die. I was helping some women at Shitta (in Lagos) to sell local herbs. They would give me food and I would hang on a bus to get home. At a time, I almost drank poison, but my fiancé held me back. If not for him, I would have been dead by now.”
She said despite her ordeal at the hands of her coach, she would continue to represent Nigeria if given the opportunity.
“I will not change my nationality, I will look for a way and compete again and prove all of them wrong. I love the game and Nigeria is my country. We have bad leaders but it doesn’t mean we have to abandon our country. Someone has to make things happen.”
Meanwhile, Hon Chibudom Nwuche, a trained lawyer, should also know that the Federation which he heads CANNOT set up a team of inquiry to investigate an allegation that involves her own interest. This will make her a judge in her own case. Since the nation has no strong institutions in sports justice system, ONLY the Ministry or the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, can so act whereby the Federation will have to come up with her own facts against those of the athlete.
This is not the first time that such sexual allegations against male coaches is making the news waves in the country. Most of such cases are always buried and exposing the female athlete to ridicule and hence, exclusion in the national teams while the alleged predator coaches remain in camp probably having the room to exploit those who are willing and able.