ATHLETICS On Wednesday morning, the country woke up to the devastating news that Nijel Amos has been provisionally suspended from world athletics ahead of next week's World Championships after testing positive for a banned metabolite, according to the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU). According a statement released by the AIU, the drug found in the 28-year-old's system, GW1516, "modifies how the body metabolizes fat," and the World Anti-Doping Agency has said it poses a health risk to athlete.

Amos also released an official statement and confirmed that he has received the test results, ahead of his 800m competition at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon,on July 20.

“I have been made aware of an adverse finding in my sample taken a day before the Rabat Diamond League race on the 24th of June 2022. I am currently investigating what may have caused this positive test and fully cooperating with the relevant authorities to reach a resolution,”Amos’ statement read. Tlhalosang Tshireletso of triple jump who has been impressive in the last few months, which includes setting a new National Record (NR) of 16.77, has also tested positive for a banned substance.

The duo have been provisionally suspended from world athletics events pending investigation and they have been given until Friday to respond to their positive tests results.

The growing trend of local athletes testing positive for banned substances is a serious concern to the local authorities. According to local National Anti-Doping officer, Fredrick Seno, for Amos to test positive for a banned substance is ‘disappointing’ given his experience on issues of doping as a top athlete.

“We were very disappointed to receive the news, he is a seasoned campaigner and he knows all about these issues and banned substances. He is a top athlete, in as much as we are disappointed, this should also serve as a strong reminder to other athletes that doping is never a solution but a serious problem even to their health,” Seno responded.

He further noted that their office is doing the best they can to disseminate information to both athletes, officials and administrators to eliminate local doping cases.

“We do engage with athletes and all concerned parties on the issues on anti-doping, we hold sessions to share information and ahead of major competitions these athletes are taken through sessions on doping issues and the dangers of doping.

We even hold virtual sessions to make sure we reach out to most athletes, even at these major games, world anti-doping agents visits our camp to share information on this subject, so a lot is being done,” Seno added.

Ahead of the Commonwealth Games which are being held in Birmingham, United Kingdom and the World Athletics Championships in Eugine, Oregon, United States of America, all competing local athletes were hosted through sessions to sensitize them on issues of doping.

Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) Vice President Oabona Theetso also expressed disappointment on the latest results of doping on their athletes and highlighted that the recent results puts a serious dent on the integrity of their office.

“We received the sad news that two of our athletes have returned positive tests for banned substance and have been provisionally suspended for violation of anti-doping regulations. We have since met with Tlhalosang and indeed he has accepted the results. He is due to write to the anti-doping agency before Friday to explained what could have transpired, we are yet to get hold of Nijel but we are hopeful he’ll respond before the set deadline of Friday,” Theetso reacted.

“With this kind of results, people will probably start to question our recent results, but until we have a comprehensive report we cannot accuse our athletes of cheating the system. These are provisional test results, we await second tests and I believe thereafter we will be in a position to shed more light on the matter,” the BAA Vice President added.

Theetso echoed the words of Seno and stated that athletes can only blame themselves for testing positive as there is enough education and information to sensitize athletes on the doping matters.

“They can only blame themselves for testing positive, no one should be blamed but only the athletes who tests positive.

There is enough education, locally and internationally, it will be a lame excuse for any athlete to suggest they were not aware of taking any banned substance, that will not be true,” Theetso shared.

In recent times, Lydia Jele and Amantle Montsho are some of the local athletes who were banned for doping, a trend that former Botswana National Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer Tuelo Serufho described as a serious concern given the small population of the country and top athletes.