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Nijel Amos, 800m star, provisionally suspended ahead of world championships

Nijel Amos

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 10: Nijel Amos of Botswana looks on before he competes in the Men’s 800 metres heats during the Athletics on day six of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carrara Stadium on April 10, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

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Botswana’s Nijel Amos, the joint-third-fastest 800m runner in history, has been provisionally suspended after failing a drug test and is in line to miss the world championships that start Friday.

Amos tested positive for a banned substance from an out-of-competition sample on June 4. A lab analyzed the sample and notified the Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles doping cases in track and field, of the result on Tuesday.

“I am currently investigating what may have caused this positive test and fully cooperating with the relevant authorities to reach a resolution,” was posted on Amos’ social media.

Provisional suspensions can be issued while awaiting a hearing on charges to determine an official punishment, if any.

Amos tested positive for GW1516, an experimental drug which can modify the body’s metabolism but has been considered too dangerous for human use.

GW1516 was developed to help build endurance and burn fat but was found to cause cancer during tests on rodents. Anti-doping organizations have warned athletes not to use it on safety grounds.

The drug has previously been found in samples given by professional cyclists and by Olympic race walker Elena Lashmanova. The Russian served a two-year ban and was later stripped of the 20km gold medal she won at the 2012 Olympics for another doping offense.

In 2012, Amos, then 18, took silver in the 800m at the London Games in what many called the greatest Olympic race in history. Kenyan David Rudisha lowered his world record. Amos matched Seb Coe as the third-fastest man in history in the event (1:41.73). Every runner’s time was the fastest ever for that finishing placement.

Amos has not won an Olympic or world championships medal since. In July 2019, he ran 1:41.89, the world’s best time since that London Olympic final.

At the Tokyo Olympics, Amos and American Isaiah Jewett got tangled in the final lap of their semifinal. In an act of good sportsmanship, the runners helped each other up and later jogged across the finish line together in the last two places. Amos was granted a place in the final and finished eighth.

This year, Amos is 36th-fastest in the world.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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