Botswana’s celebrated 800m runner Nijel Amos (29) has broken his silence following the three year doping ban that was announced last week by Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU). In a press conference in the capital Gaborone at Protea Hotel Masa Square, the remorseful Amos broke down events leading to his first alleged positive test. The Marobela born seasoned athlete told the media in a tell it all briefing that he signed off the guilt and admission to get a lesser sentence and still claims his innocence. The following is extract from his speech.
“This statement serves to acknowledge of the three-year suspension ban imposed by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) upon testing positive of the Metabolites of GW1516 (a Prohibited Substance under the WADA 2022 Prohibited List; category S4 Hormone and Metabolic Modulators).
First and foremost, I would like to express gratitude to my legal team, Javelin Sports, very reputable sports lawyers based in the republic of South Africa. They have stood by me throughout the entire legal battle in effort to clear my name and of course that of my beloved nation Botswana in the past daunting 11 months.
As a well-seasoned professional athlete who rose through the ranks, I am very proud to have represented my beloved country through the years, raised our flag high and had our national anthem sung all around the world. I am very much aware that the ruling made by AIU brings shame to the nation. I would like to humbly apologize to my beloved country, its citizens, fellow athletes and athletic bodies in the country.
However, I am of the believe that if I had support from my native sports bodies, we would be facing a different outcome. I believe there is room for our local sports bodies to do better and support their own in times like this. In the past, we have seen many of our stars the likes of Amantle Montsho, Lydiah Jele , just to name a few go through the same ordeal, and being neglected at these trying times of need. The support we have received at podiums should be extended to such cases.
Many would ask, how did we end up here? What happened? Did Nijel Amos really do it?
It would be best to narrate the series of events leading to this unfortunate turmoil and consequential experience since 4th of June 2022 when I did my infamous test in Morocco. I flew to Morocco to compete in the Rabat Diamond League from Ostrava, Czech Republic. I had been tested in Ostrava and my results came out negative however, on arrival in Morocco I allegedly tested positive. As a result, I requested for a B sample to be tested and the results came back positive too. I went through with the competition and I flew to Paris-France a week later to take part in the Paris Diamond League. In Paris, I experienced issues with my hamstrings during the warm up and I eventually had to withdraw from the race. Therefore, my last race was in Morocco and that should be the only result that will be excluded in my profile.
Following the Paris Diamond League, I went on to focus on the World Championships preparation which I had really prepared exceptionally well to redeem myself after the Tokyo incident. Sadly, three days prior to my first round in the World Championships I was notified about the positive results and I was given an opportunity to race under protest.
However, I made a decision to not participate in the world championships pending the final verdict on that case.
I have missed an opportunity to compete in a quite a number of competitions including the World Championships in Oregon USA and with that obviously comes missed opportunity to win and earn out of those. The total monetary loss from these missed opportunities is estimated to amount to BWP 2 million. Although one could argue that it was not guaranteed that I was going to win, but given my past records and the amount of effort I put in preparing for those I was destined to podium finishes.
In this particular case alone, I had incurred expenses amounting to close BWP 895 000.00 of which it includes legal fees, travel and accommodation to Switzerland where the case was being heard. The legal team insisted on engaging a scientific expert to assist in the case and that on its own had an attracted a further bill of about BWP 260 000.00. All these hefty legal and logistical fees have to be paid out from my own pocket despite reaching out to the BNSC, BNOC, BAA and MYSC in writing. The only feedback I was given, not as an official correspondence, was that the World Anti- Doping Agency (WADA) Memorandum with MYSC restricts them (MYSC) from interfering in an any manner with cases such as mine.
Nonetheless I had took a step further to reach of the different leaderships of sports for assistance and I have never received any response from anyone to date.
Acting on the advice given by my legal team, I signed Admission of Anti-Doping Rule Violations and Acceptance of Consequences Form on the 10th Apri 2023. Given the circumstances surrounding the cases, my legal team and I saw it fit to take that direction so that I get a reduction on my ban and I have since received a one-year reduction of the ban.
What does it mean for me as a professional? The suspension will last for 3 years dating back to 12th July 2022, and by then I will be 31 years. Does that mean I will retire?
I can inform the nation that I have no plans to retire in the next 3 years. I am still in good shape and I am hopeful that I will rise again in the World Championships in 2025, God willing.
I would admit it has been a financially draining process, and it is extremely difficult to survive as an athlete in Botswana where we are not given pension or any lump sum insurance payouts. At this time, my only investment or pension is the famous 2012 Olympic silver medal. I am in touch with different stakeholders including financial advisors on how that can sustain me and my family.
Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who have stood by my side throughout the case, everyone who supported me throughout my entire career during my highest and lowest points. I do not take that for granted and I want to ensure you that I will rise again”. He concluded.