For two decades, Ama Agbeze was riddled with nerves about doping affecting her sport and now the netball legend wants to educate the next generation on how to keep sport clean.

From worrying about water bottles to panicking about painkillers, the 2018 Commonwealth Games champion was constantly concerned about accidentally falling foul of the rules.

But Agbeze – a Loughborough University and University of Leicester graduate – is hoping that her new role on the UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) Athlete Commission and Board can help alleviate some of those stresses for current athletes through the power of education.

“The whole time I was an athlete, anti-doping was a heightened concern for me and the teams that I competed in,” said Agbeze.

“Being in that space was always tough, and every time I faced a drug test, I felt really nervous. I was 100% confident I was clean by choice, but there was always that worry about inadvertently having consumed something.

“I was always conscious about where I left my water bottle, where I took drinks from. Sometimes I wouldn’t take painkillers because I was concerned they could be contaminated.

“There was always a heightened sense of concern, and I appreciate not having to contend with that now. I still think twice about certain things like taking water from an open jug and think ‘I shouldn’t be drinking this’, then I recollect I am not a professional athlete anymore.

“Another distinct sense of nervousness arouse around the implications for the team. If you are found guilty of a doping violation, it impacts the whole team. Every time we had education sessions in netball, people would ask, what would happen if someone was found doping?

“As an athlete, you are always responsible for whatever is found inside your body and most athletes know that, but in a team sport, it is not just about you. It is wider than that. It is about you, your team, your sport and the integrity of sport as a whole."

Agbeze’s experience playing in, and leading teams is something she is looking to bring to the Athlete Commission, which also includes long-distance runner Andrew Hayes and powerlifter Ali Jawad amongst its members.

The Commission provides advice on anti-doping issues and represents the views of athletes, and Agbeze hopes her own experiences can help make it easier than ever for athletes to stay clean and speak up about doping concerns.

“From a team sport perspective, there is the culture of what goes on tour, stays on tour and you ride through the ups and downs together, so it can be really challenging for somebody to speak up if they see something amongst their teammates,” she added.

“Equally in individual sports, people train in groups, so it can be difficult for them as well.

“It is really important that people know they can say something without identifying who they are, and UK Anti-Doping will do the rest and investigate to find out what is happening.

“When people speak up, they are protecting themselves, their teammates, and the sport. It is really important that people can be anonymous as it is an incredibly difficult thing to speak up about.

“It can feel like a daunting and scary process but UK Anti-Doping policy states that informants are kept anonymous throughout the process. I think that’s a great thing and hopefully leads to more people coming forward.”

With the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics just around the corner, Agbeze steps into her new role at a busy time in the sporting calendar but challenge is exactly what the qualified lawyer is ready to embrace.

“It gives me the opportunity to give back and drive the work towards clean sport and what sport should be, for those competing but also for fans and spectators,” she said.

“It is nice to join in an Olympic and Paralympic year, I am getting involved at the furnace-end of things.

“I am excited to understand what new ways we can connect with people, there are some high-risk sports that UK Anti-Doping have on the radar that we are trying to work out how we can better serve those athletes and sports, plus the challenge of image and performance enhancing drugs (IPEDs).”

"Elite sport is a place where boundaries are constantly pushed; how fast, how high, how far can we go. With innovation, there are also people who will use that to their own benefit in terms of doping and enhancing their performances in ways that you shouldn’t.

"It is a constant battle against those using these substances and methods and we have to keep understanding there are new substances and techniques. We need to keep on educating people, keep testing people. It is an endless battle, but we have to keep pushing.

“Education is vital to help people understand the implications and make sure the culture exists that people know that doping is wrong, and people speak up about it if they see it.”

Protecting clean sport depends on everyone in sport playing their part to maintain a level playing field. If you have any suspicions that something’s not right, no matter how small, search Protect Your Sport or email