Olympic 800m medalist Nijel Amos suspended for doping

Third fastest 800m runner of all time, Batswana Nijel Amos has been provisionally suspended ahead of this week’s world championships after the 2012 Olympic silver medalist tested positive for a banned metabolite, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) announced on Tuesday.

Nijel Amos during the 800m final at the 2017 World Championships in London. Photo: WC

The drug found in the 28-year-old’s system was GW1516, which alters the way the body metabolizes fat and may increase endurance. An IAU press release says the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has also warned it poses a health risk to athletes.

GW1516 was originally developed to treat obesity and diabetes, but is not approved for human use because it was found to be carcinogenic. It is prohibited in and out of competition, and not eligible for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE). A 2019 USADA bulletin states that GW1516 is also sometimes known as cardarine or endurobol and has been found in some supplements, even though it is illegal. In 2017, there were 31 sanctions worldwide related to its use.

The IAU collected the sample from Amos during an out-of-competition test on June 4. Amos learned of the result as he prepared for the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, where he was scheduled to compete in the 800m heats on July 20. He finished eighth in the 800m final at Tokyo 2020. At Rio 2016 he failed to come out of the heats.

Amos’ silver in the 800m at the London Olympics was Botswana’s first Olympic medal and ranks third in the fastest 800m times (1:41.73) behind Kenya. David Rudisha (1:40.91) and Wilson Kipketer (1:41.11).

Amos has spent his last six seasons training with Mark Rowland and the Nike Oregon Track Club. Rowland recently left the club to begin a new coaching role with Athletics Canada’s West Pole.

The IAU says the length of his suspension will be determined at a later date.

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