The Effectiveness of Sports Supplements – Part 2

The second part of our sports supplement series looks at individual products, specifically the benefits and pitfalls that comes with them.


Josh Williamson

The second part of our sports supplement series looks at individual products, specifically the benefits and pitfalls that comes with them.

Does whey protein equal muscle growth? ©Sportexamined

In Part 1, which can be found here (, the safety of sports supplements was questioned.

From individuals simply wanting to look better naked, to world class athletes, the growth of supplement use has been exponential. Both nationally and globally, billions are spent every year for that ‘magic’ pill to get even a 1% improvement. However, has anyone ever stopped to ask, ‘do these products actually work?’

The number one question any individual should ask themselves before purchasing a supplement is, ‘will this product benefit me?’. To answer this question, the individual must consider the evidence-based effectiveness of the product, but also, is it relevant to the individuals specific goal. The scope of this article is to highlight 4 key supplements which are research-backed.

It is outside the remit of this article to cover all supplements, and thus readers are directed towards This is a database of pretty much every supplement in existence which includes studies on products, usage, dosages, side effects etc. Only when individuals have considered the safety, effectiveness, and if the supplement is needed for their specific goals, should they consider purchasing said supplement. Here, I have outlined 4 of the most common supplements which have scientific evidence to support their effectiveness.

Whey Protein

“Little Miss Muffet, she sat on a tuffet, eating of curds and whey”

This very common nursey rhyme refers to the two proteins found in milk; curds (casein) and whey. The whey is the water-soluble part of the milk and is used for whey protein supplements. Despite the popular belief that protein supplementation itself enhances muscle growth and repair, this is not entirely true. If daily protein targets are achieved through dietary intake, supplementation is unnecessary. A high-protein diet combined with a specific resistance training plan, will support a biological environment for putting on muscle mass. The rationale for using a protein supplement is either to supplement your protein intake from food, and/or convenience. This rationale applies to all protein supplements in general, such as protein milk, protein bars, protein ice cream, protein bread etc which are all so common now.

It is also important to point out at this stage that whey supplementation, or high-protein diets in general, do not cause damage to the liver or kidneys in healthy individuals. If you have any underlying kidney/liver conditions, protein intake should be increased under the guidance of a medical professional.


Fish Oil

Fish oil commonly refers to two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA, which are typically found in fish and animal products. Fish oil exhibit a number of health benefits including enhancing mood, reducing disease factor risk, reducing inflammation, and is associated with reductions in triglycerides.

With relation to dosage, the American Heart Association recommends 1g per day; however, this reflects a combined total of EPA and DHA. Ideally, this should be achieved through a balanced diet; nevertheless, if individuals don’t like eating fish, this can be achieved through a fish oil supplement, or an algae supplement if you don’t like that fishy aftertaste that can come with some products. With fish oil supplements, it is important to read the nutritional label; for example, the label may state a combined total of 400mg per serving of EPA and DHA which would require 2-3 servings to achieve the recommended dose.


If you are currently involved in sport, or even gym culture, you will no doubt have heard of creatine supplementation. Creatine is potentially the single most studied supplement in history; and has endless evidence to support its effectiveness, and safety. Creatine is naturally occurring in some foods such as meat, eggs and fish, however the dosage provided is usually insufficient to provide a desirable outcome. To put this into context, creatine powder is usually consumed in dosages of 5-20g per day; this equates to 1-4kg of meat!

Typically marketed as a ‘muscle gain’ product, creatine essentially acts as a source of energy for your cells. Despite the marketing claims, creatine does not increase muscle mass per say; however, there is concrete evidence to support the use of creatine for high intensity exercise, power sports, and repeated sprint ability. This means weightlifters, bodybuilders, football/rugby players and basketballers to name a few, would benefit from creatine supplementation. There may be some research potentially supporting the use of creatine supplementation for endurance performance and it also shows promise on cognition.

With regards safety, it should be noted that there is no research demonstrating negative effects of creatine supplementation on either kidney or liver function of healthy individuals. On the other hand, individuals with pre-existing or underlying kidney or liver conditions should use caution if using a creatine supplement and do so under the supervision of a medical professional.

Being out in the sun is the most enjoyable way of getting vitamin D

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and is essential for many biological functions. The most enjoyable source of this vitamin is obviously lying on a beach somewhere in the Maldives; however, it can also be consumed through dietary sources such as fish, eggs, and fortified foods.

Despite the excessive media attention on vitamin D deficiency, the majority of the population are not deficient in vitamin D, or we would have a rickets epidemic on our hands. However, there is a stark difference between minimum threshold, and ideal amount. Most of the research on vitamin D status and populations demonstrate that most people are not in the ideal range; as a result, supplementation is a viable option. Vitamin D supplementation is associated with increased cognition, immune health, bone health and overall well-being, thus individuals should be aiming to consume the ideal amount; especially if in cold or overcast areas. Individuals should aim to consume a Vitamin D3 supplement anywhere in the range of 1000IU-10,000IU per day; preferably along with meals.

Note; All information in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or instruction. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. For specific medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, consult a professional.

Josh Williamson


Top 10 practical nutrition tips for marathon preparation

Whether you’re preparing for a marathon, or simply looking to get the best out of your morning run, this guide will help you achieve your goals.

Ted Munson

Whether you’re preparing for a marathon, or simply looking to get the best out of your morning run, this guide will help you achieve your goals.

Professional marathon runners
  1. Prepare: If you’re heading out for a morning run, prepare your breakfast the night before. Foods like overnight oats are ideal choices and allow you to get up and get fuel on board. Likewise, if you’re heading out after work, make sure you have your recovery shake or meal ready. I recommend taking on both carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes of finishing a run to fuel adaptations and assist recovery for your next session.


  1. Complex carbohydrates: These will help fuel your runs and include foods like bread, pulses, legumes, rice and pasta. This will release steadily into the bloodstream to provide sustained energy. It’s recommended to consume these around 2 hours pre-run to allow time for digestion, helping to prevent unwanted gastrointestinal issues. Combine complex carbohydrates with a source of protein like meat, eggs, fish or cheese for the ideal pre or post training meal.


  1. Carbohydrate load: Carbohydrate is the main fuel for performance and will fuel you on the road. You should aim to take on around 8-10g of carbohydrate per kilo of your body mass per day for 48 hours before your race. This should be implemented along with a taper in training. This does seem like a lot of food, so consider using high energy carbohydrate (maltodextrin-based) drink between meals to increase carbohydrate stores.


  1. Hydration: It’s not always practical to carry a bottle and drink during long runs. Pre-hydrate effectively by drinking an electrolyte solution. The sodium will help the body retain and absorb fluid more effectively. Electrolyte tabs are a convenient way to increase sodium intake both pre and post exercise. Don’t forget you will usually have access to water on race-day, so it is important to learn to drink while running! How much you drink depends entirely on your sweat rate. Weigh yourself pre and post session and work out toughly how much water you’re using through sweat. Aim not to lose 2% of your body mass. From my experience, this usually works out as consuming 250ml – 500ml per hour during longer runs (half marathon +) When training, you could run loop past your house and practice taking on small amounts of fluid during the run.


Hydration is key
  1. Fuel for the work required: We use both fat and carbohydrate as a fuel source during endurance exercise. Fuelling for the work required involves training sessions with reduced energy intake (e.g having breakfast after a morning run) and training sessions where your race- day fuelling strategy is practiced (e.g fuelling with 60g per hour during a run, using energy gels). Quite simply, fuel longer sessions with carbohydrate (perhaps your long weekend run?) and fuel shorter sessions with low carbohydrate. It’s always important to refuel effectively post run, especially if undertaken in a fasted state.


  1. Practice your nutrition strategy in training: It’s important to train the body to utilize carbohydrates and tolerate sports nutrition during running. Our digestive system works differently when we exercise, so It’s important to practice using gels, bars and drinks during training runs. I recommend starting off using 1 gel immediately before a run and progressing to 1 gel during a run. Eventually, you should be able to easily consume enough food during runs to take on 60 g per hour. The worst thing you can do is try new forms and amounts of carbohydrate on race day!


  1. Have your ‘pre –run’ meal around 90 minutes before: When preparing for a race or a long training session, aim to have a carbohydrate meal around 90 minutes before. This will ensure that you start your run with ‘topped-up’ energy stores. This goes for both training and race day. Practice your pre-run meal and consume what works for you. Keep it the same for race day. Note that marathons often start early and you may have to have an early start to take on your breakfast!


  1. Don’t neglect protein: During endurance exercise, our muscle protein still breaks down, which is detrimental to adaptations (the purpose of training). We also need to consider the mitochondrial adaptations! Aim to take on 1.2-2g of protein per kg of your body mass per day top help muscles adapt and provide key amino acids to help make new muscle proteins. Ideally, take on protein at a rate of 20-25g every 3-4 hours throughout the day, as well as before and after training.


TH96Run 2017-7
  1. Recover: Recovery isn’t just about protein, we need to consider that tough endurance exercise depletes energy stores and can impair immune function. I recommend taking on a meal within 30 minutes of finishing your training runs. This should contain around 60% carbohydrates (including vegetables) with a lean source of protein. Although, many runners do not want to eat immediately post-exercise. Here, a recovery shake can provide a convenient protein and carbohydrate source. I always recommend that if you have a recovery shake, always aim to take on a full mal within 1 hour of finishing.


  1. Avoid: In the 48 hours before your event, it’s a good idea to avoid certain foods that might upset your stomach or what you’re not used to having. Key foods that may (or may not) cause problems are both spicy and high fat foods. I would also recommend having low-moderate fibre the day before your race. Make sure you’ve practiced your pre-race nutrition strategy and most importantly, never try anything new on race day!

Ted Munson

What qualifying for a World Cup means to Panama

The incredible story of how Panama’s football team qualified for their first major tournament.

Jack Douglas

The incredible story of how Panama’s football team qualified for their first major tournament.

Passion @BelTel_Sport

On December 20th 1989, the US launched a full military invasion of Panama. Estimates believe Operation Just Cause resulted in the loss of up to 7000 Panamanians and ended with the deposing of Military Dictator Manuel Noriega.

Known by many for military coups, narcotics, and a canal; Panama has often made the headlines in quite a derogatory fashion. Noriega’s Dignity Battalions acted like storm-troopers; a combatant militia that stood in the way of any attacks from both domestic and overseas opposition.

Luis Ovalle, Fidel Escobar, Roman Torres, Adolfo Machado and Jaime Penedo now form the Panamanian Football Team’s own Dignity Battalion; the last line of defence from any foreign threats.

With the odds stacked against them, Los Canaleros lined up against Costa Rica in October knowing only a victory and a US slip up in Trinidad would grant them their ticket to Russia. Panama’s dream looked left in tatters as Johan Vanegas put the Costa Ricans one up.

But for a country synonymous with conflict and fight, giving up was never an option. With the US enduring a nightmare in Trinidad, Gabriel Torres drew the hosts level with a goal marred in controversy, before namesake Roman Torres netted an 87th minute winner to send the 4 million population of Panama into dreamland.

Gabriel Torres’ equaliser came after a goal-line scramble, and the ball didn’t appear to cross the line. But with Russia confirmed for the Reds, fans and players alike won’t have lost any sleep over the ghost goal.

President Juan Carlos Varela tweeted: “You deserve it… Viva Panama!” A national holiday was subsequently called, allowing fans of a once war-torn nation to celebrate something miraculous that everyone had worked so hard to achieve.

After America’s invasion of Panama, a sense of irony prevailed when the plucky little nation got their own back against the States, crushing the dreams of wonderkid Christian Pulisic and co.

For a Baseball playing nation, reaching a football world cup was only a dream for many. The Liga Panameña de Fútbol is the top tier of the Panamanian football pyramid. To give some context to the size of the game in the country, current champions and most successful club C.D. Árabe Unido play their home games at Estadio Armando Dely Valdés in front of a capacity of 4,000 people.

Panama line up against England in Group G, alongside Belgium and Tunisia. Whilst Panama’s champions perform for 4,000, our champions, Chelsea, play in front of 41,000 at Stamford Bridge, and are broadcast to millions across the globe.

The man that scored the historic goal for his country Roman Torres summed up what qualification meant to his team and country, saying they are: “Extremely happy, just thankful to god for the things that happened and we are really happy to be going to the world cup.

“Pure happiness, the Panamanians are so blessed with what happened, it’s something we’ve been working to for some time. I can’t say it enough, the stadium was just in pure happiness and euphoria over what happened. It was a historic moment for our country.”

A photo circulated that showed Torres, a pitch-invader and a police officer embracing one another following the full time whistle. The sheer delight inside the stadium was sensational, says Torres:

“When the moment arrived, if the fans are going to come, they are going to come. The Panamanians felt the moment, they are part of the moment. What are you going to do? You can’t stop them entering the field in such a moment, not only for the people of Panama City and Panama, but for the national team also. You can’t stop them coming and celebrating such a historic moment.”

The crowd erupted ©AP – Mail Online Website

Fifa’s 56th ranked team are managed by Colombian Hernán Darío Gómez. El Bolillo (The Truncheon) managed Ecuador side to their first World Cup in 2002, four years after his Colombian side bowed out of the ’98 finals in the group stages. In an interview with Fox Sports, El Bolillo said that his team are going to face powerhouses like Belgium and England, before adding: “We’re going to face these tough guys, and they’re going to be happy about it.”

In football though, as England fans know all too well, the underdogs often spring up surprises.

The country’s all-time leading scorer Blas Perez has netted 43 goals for Los Canaleros. Perez has enjoyed successful spells in Uruguay, Colombia, America and Mexico, with brief stints in Spain and the UAE. The cult-hero figure celebrated reaching the world cup with a tweet dedicated to his countrymen, which read: “Our greatest satisfaction was to fulfil the dream of a nation. See you in Russia my people!”

The common consensus surrounding Panamanian football and the successes of the national team seem to be one of togetherness and camaraderie, with the people of the nation being just as pivotal and important as the eleven on the field.

Two Panamanian commentators were seen screaming, crying and jumping into each other’s arms as the full time whistle went against Costa Rica. Their neighbours had inflicted Panama’s heaviest ever defeat in 1938, 11-0, so victory for Panama over their rivals made qualification even sweeter.

With an average income of $13,654, Panamanian’s are looking at an estimated cost of €3,228 ($3,969) for the trip to Russia according to The World Game. But for a nation who are finally starting to get behind the beautiful game, thousands of supporters are expected to make the journey.

Panama’s motto of ‘For the Benefit of the World’ seems more apt than ever now as the tiny nation gets to show itself off on the biggest stage of all. Let’s hope that the nation, known by many for US military intervention and a de facto dictator, can change the minds of many and help contribute to what is shaping up to be one of the most interesting tournaments to date.

¡Viva Panamá!

Jack Douglas


Bancroft, Smith and Warner: Cricket criminals

The shocking behaviour of the Australian Cricket Team continues to reverberate around the sporting world.

Harry Everett

The shocking behaviour of the Australian Cricket Team continues to reverberate around the sporting world.

Cricket Australia has begun an investigation

Ball tampering and match fixing, probably the two offences that contravene the spirit of cricket above all else.

In recent years it seemed cricket was finally coming out of the dark ages, there have seemed to have been far less instances of match fixing and ball tampering of late. The days of Kiwi match fixer Lou Vincent, jelly baby gate and Faf du Plessis’ use of his trouser pocket zip to scratch the ball seemed to be in a recent, but somehow different era. Even the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals are being reinstated into this April’s IPL after their own match-fixing scandals.

What thousands upon millions (of not just cricket fans) across the Globe have seen, pictures of Cameron Bancroft ball tampering under instruction from the Australia test team leadership group, somehow seems even worse than all of the above. Arguably the biggest test nation, the Ashes holders, led by a man dubbed second only to Don Bradman by many have gone and ball-tampered. And this was not one slight scratch, this was thoroughly thought out, planned cheating, out-and-out cheating.

The fact that Steven Smith readily admitted to the press how the leadership group encouraged rookie opener Cameron Bancroft to use a small piece of sandpaper to rough up one side of the ball makes this scenario even more galling. It was as if the world’s best batsman did not see this as a problem at the time. Having won the Ashes just two months ago, are they really that desperate to win the deciding test in South Africa to see cheating as the only way of making this possible? They have generally been outplayed by South Africa so far, and to be honest it never seemed that a particularly roughed up ball helped their cause anyway. This test has seen multiple ball changes, whether this is down to Bancroft’s scraping or simply natural, fair deterioration is not particularly important, but what is, is how on earth Smith, Warner, Bancroft or anyone else in this so-called `leadership group’ thought it a good idea to bring the game into disrepute for what would probably only be marginal gains.

To make this whole affair even more stupid and daft from an Australian perspective, they chose to use yellow sandpaper. Yes, that’s the same yellow, that is used by cyclists to make them more visible in the dark, one of the brightest colours available that is used to enhance visibility. For years we may have thought Warner stupid or thick, since punching Joe Root in Birmingham’s Walkabout bar back in 2013, but most of us believed Smith to be more intelligent than all of this.

It is also slightly ironic that just a few months ago Smith and Bancroft were in a press conference before the Ashes series commenced to act as grassers telling the press all about Jonny Bairstow’s `welcoming, friendly head-butt’ on the very same man at the centre of this controversy, Cam Bancroft. Now this is clearly a different story, but it is worth mentioning the comic irony of the same two Aussies speaking in a much-publicised press conference so soon after. Yet the first occasion saw them beaming at the trouble their arch-enemies England were getting themselves in, whilst the second saw them sheepishly trying to explain any reasoning for the trouble they had inflicted upon themselves.

The players in question were critical of the Jonny Bairstow incident ©By Mcadge

The ICC have rightly fined Smith and Bancroft the majority of their match fees (Smith 100%, Bancroft 75%), given Bancroft three demerit points and suspended Smith for the next and final test match, but it does seem slightly odd that the perpetrator gets a smaller fine than the person who supposedly was in charge of telling him what to do. We are not talking about a 14-year-old Bancroft being told this is a good idea by an all-dictating under-15s coach. This is a 25-year-old man who has played seven test matches, surely he can make a decision for himself and see right from wrong by his own accord? Or was he simply too scared of going against his skipper’s wishes, desperate to impress, whilst his place in the side is so vulnerable? Maybe this shows he’ll do anything he can to give him one more chance of opening the batting for Australia in test cricket.

From an English County Cricket perspective, the main worry now is that Cam Bancroft has already signed as Somerset’s overseas for the coming season. Now where does this leave Somerset’s leadership group? One would guess they will have to sit down and Mr Hurry, Abell, Kerr, maybe even experienced heads such as Trescothick and co will have to decide if they still want to play and work alongside a proven cheater. Bancroft is hardly a world beater; thus they will have to work out if it’s worth risking tarnishing Somerset’s proud reputation to employ a man with this now permanent cricket-criminal record?

For Steve Smith there are already rumours that he will be sacked as Rajasthan Royals captain before the 2018 IPL that starts in less than two weeks’ time. Even vice-captain Davey Warner may get the chop as Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper such is the honest culture and expectations to follow the unwritten rules of cricket in India more so than other countries perhaps. Developments are ongoing as this is written and as you read, but whatever the Aussie’s excuses, whatever the outcomes or their given punishments, it is clear from the initial reaction that there is no excuse for ball tampering in cricket, and it has no place in the game.

Harry Everett

English football, scandals and our young players

For the modern footballer, more needs to be done to guide and support our players through the pitfalls of 21st century life.

Beth Fenner

For the modern footballer, more needs to be done to guide and support our players through the pitfalls of 21st century life.

Thousands of youngsters dream of becoming a footballer ©Jorge Royan

If you had asked a kid 25 years ago what they wanted to be when they were older they might have said police officer, doctor, vet, teacher or, for the more optimistic, pop star. Nowadays, the dream for many of our young generation is to become a professional footballer, and it’s easy to understand why. Footballers dominate our headlines, are some of the richest people in the world and are heralded as heroes among a large proportion of the British public. But, despite their god-like status, many of these stars seem to attract attention for the wrong reasons all too often. The question is, are the scandals a result of the lack of education, guidance and support our young players receive? Or is it simply the fact that our footballers accept this behaviour as ‘ordinary’ within their extraordinary lives?

Wayne Rooney, Ashley Cole, Ryan Giggs. These are names synonymous with footballing glory and success during the noughties. But they’re also names you associate with actually being naughty – they’ve appeared on the front pages for their extra-marital scandals as well as the back pages for their sporting exploits. The fact that these so-called heroes, who our kids look up to, are reported to have engaged in sexual impropriety means that this culture is normalised in our society. In the 21st century, with fame comes major responsibility, and by entering the professional realm of football you must accept that you are a role model for young children and will be scrutinised for the mistakes you make both on and off the pitch. It’s just part and parcel of the lifestyle and the multi-million pound contracts and endorsements. Big multi-national companies won’t touch you with a ten foot barge pole if you’re making the red-tops rub their hands together every Sunday morning. Yet this doesn’t seem to deter some footballers from repeatedly making these mistakes. They’ll still get paid their millions and we as a public will still put them on their pedestals, despite our sub conscious telling us it’s wrong. And that’s where we make great failings for our young generation of footballers.

Scandals may tarnish player’s’ reputations for a number of months, but good performances drive these stories out of our mind. By failing to challenge these behaviours off the pitch, we are instilling in our rising stars that this is acceptable and what should be expected within a professional context. With prolific cases of sexual abuse hitting the headlines over the past months from Hollywood to Parliament, the need for education regarding sex and consent is crucial and this must filter into the football sphere. Yes high profile cases involving Ched Evans and Adam Johnson kick started the introduction of more consent workshops within youth football settings, but the subject has since seemed to fade into the background. Brighton and Hove Albion paved the way for these workshops back in 2015, implementing guidance on the laws around consent as part of a programme called Protect, Inform and Prevent, but not much has been heard about it since. The PFA has also introduced short consent sessions for all players as a result of these high profile cases. However is a short, one-off session really enough to ensure the message sinks in? Without this fundamental education from a young age, those thrown into the spotlight will have no guidance in understanding what is right and what is wrong, not to mention what is legal. With sexual consent cases flooding the headlines from Hollywood to Parliament, it is imperative our young players are making informed choices and the institutions supporting them should be the ones providing this education.

Brighton and Hove Albion paved the way in 2015. ©James Boyle

One of the issues that contributes to sexual misadventure could be the amount of free time players have. Training takes up only a small portion of the day, and although some players participate in coaching opportunities or charity events, a lot of players are left with nothing to fill their time. Imagine what they could be doing: learning a language, studying for a degree or even giving back to the community. Although many players at all levels of the game do give back to society, there are also a few who don’t. With time on their hands and money to burn, the allure of tattoo parlours, designer clothing shops, fast cars, and the safe posse of hangers-on and Instagram models can sometimes prove too strong. This can look very appealing to those wishing to pave a way in the game.

Are we expecting too much from players in this position? It’s hard for most of us to imagine ourselves in this position. It’s easy to say what we would or wouldn’t do in a hypothetical situation – but we don’t understand the pressures and dog-eat-dog nature of a testosterone-filled dressing room.

And perhaps in due course, when times get tough and injury strikes, form dips, or personal difficulties rear their ugly heads, the youngster will realise that no sleeve tattoo or private number plate will be able to comfort them. A solid family life or a supportive partner can be priceless in these situations.

The educational opportunities for young players have come on leaps and bounds with the EFL ensuring all academy players attend school as part of their programme which they must complete, even if they sign a professional contract. However, after 18 education is no longer compulsory, and despite the PFA offering opportunities beyond school qualifications, there is little incentive for players to do when they can rely on their extortionate wages. High profile players are also often fast-tracked through their coaching qualifications, which instils a sense of entitlement that encourages the view that footballers can get what they want without the same work ethic as regular members of society, something that can then translate into their personal and sexual life. With players sitting on a weekly wage most of us would be lucky to earn in our life, everything seems to come easy, even the women and this can then blur the lines of consent. Sadly, this isn’t just happening among our footballers but can be seen in an almost parallel universe of fame and fortune in Hollywood. With money and celebrity-status comes power which has evidently been abused and responsibilities as role models have been neglected .Clearly we aren’t doing enough to give our players the opportunities to go beyond being just a footballer; we need to start fostering intelligent and compassionate players both on the field and off.

The English Football League provide educational programmes for young player at every club under its banner. ©EFL

It is obvious that the institutions supporting players need to do a lot more to educate young players about real-life relationships and sexual consent, but clubs and players also need to start changing their attitude and challenge the stereotypes that have surrounded footballers and sex for the past couple of decades. We as a nation have put our players on pedestals and it’s time we demand a change before future generations fall into the same trap that football, fame and money can sometimes bring.

Beth Fenner


Rashid and Hales right to choose white ball cricket

With the amount of money now available white-ball cricket, players are turning their back on the longer format of the game.

Jack Witham

With the amount of money now available white-ball cricket, players are turning their back on the longer format of the game.

Alex Hales playing for England ©Ben Sutherland

As many of you will already know, both Adil Rashid and Alex Hales have both agreed to only play white ball cricket for their counties. For fans of Nottinghamshire, or fans of Yorkshire, this decision might seem like the wrong move. For England fans though, they will see this as a step in the right direction, and hope that many other English players follow suit. It’s about time the International team took first priority.

For many county cricket fans the red ball game should come first, but the bigger picture has to be looked at. Adil and Alex will both want to be as white ball prepared as they possibly can be, and with the tournament being played in England and Wales, the nation must fancy their chances of winning a first ever World Cup, adding to the three runners up medals. Hales was overlooked in the 2015 World Cup, only playing twice, making scores of 27 and 37 as England yet again suffered a miserable time at a major tournament. Adil did not make the squad for the 2015 World Cup. He was left at home, whilst ‘Tricky’ James Tredwell got the nod. A slightly odd decision to pick a spinner who doesn’t spin a ball.

Since this tournament, England have changed their playing style, very much suiting Hales and Rashid. Captain Eoin Morgan installed a brand of cricket allowing players to play with freedom. Rashid has been a huge factor in England’s recent upturn in form. A spinner who can spin the ball both ways, creating confusion for the batsmen, finally England have got one.

It certainly will be nice for England fans to have one of these bowlers in their team, rather than watching the batsmen get traumatised by mystery spinners. In fact, since the end of the 2015 World Cup, Rashid has picked up the most wickets out of anybody in ODI cricket (Dec 2017). Wonder now why he wants to just focus on his white ball skills? He really is an unsung hero in the England side.

Adil Rashid playing for England ©Ben Sutherland

Okay, he picks up wickets in the longer format, but he has to completely adapt his game. He has a field designed for him in ODIs. He will bowl the odd bad ball; he’s a wrist spinner, only Shane Warne doesn’t bowl bad balls. With his field, he can often get away with this. Not in the 4 day stuff. He can go through his variations in ODIs, when he knows the batsmen will be coming after him. Not in the 4 Day stuff when they know a bad ball is just around the corner. He didn’t have a very successful test career, despite taking a five wicket hall on debut. A strike rate of 66 in tests is compared to a strike rate of 35 in ODIs, showing which format he thrives in more. Surely this shows his decision is a good choice, why would we want him to change his skills again?

The chance for the English International players to go and play overseas is surely an appeal to all. There is no hiding that in the Sub Continent, England have really struggled. Fair enough only a certain few have been selected to play in the IPL, but that’s an improvement on previous years. With Ben Stokes in the team, the country can easily argue that they have the most valuable player in International cricket playing for our country. For England, that doesn’t happen often.

Both Hales and Rashid have secured CPL deals. England should be encouraging the rest of their international stars to do the same, rather than seeing them play in April, playing a dull brand of cricket. Rashid is not likely to get much of a bowl early on in the season, when the wickets are green and slightly damp, favouring faster bowlers.

Simon Hughes researched that if Adil Rashid played every white ball game for Yorkshire this upcoming season, regarding he bowled his maximum amount every game, he would bowl 136 overs. He bowled 290 in the 2015 season. This would amass to over 400 overs without including is England duties. Even for a leg spinner, that’s a lot of overs.

He recently admitted that his head wasn’t fully there when playing red ball cricket, so surely he’s doing Yorkshire a favour by not playing.

Fans of the current England One Day International team may be happy to see players signing white ball deals, but for some fans of the county game and lovers of the longer format, it is evident why this might start to worry people. If people are starting to do it now, big names as well, then surely this might be the catalyst for more people to do so.

Boro 1st XI v Rochdale 1st XI FS (31 of 48).jpg
Is there a lack of interest in longer forms of cricket? ©JMSPORTPIX

For the traditional fan, this could be damaging, as the county game could start to deteriorate even more than it is now. Already low crowds could become even worse if popular names are not participating. There has to be worries about certain players. Players such as Chris Jordan, Sam Billings, Jason Roy and Jos Buttler are very much classed as One Day specialists. Could this mean they may also be about to sign the dotted line on a white ball deal with their respective counties?

For some counties, this concern won’t be as big as it is for others. Look Yorkshire for one. With Adil Rashid already focusing just on the white ball, there is concern others may follow suit. David Willey and Liam Plunkett are two huge players for Yorkshire, probably players Yorkshire can’t afford to lose, but maybe they want to keep their skills for the white ball game as well.

It also brings the question “Is Test Cricket Dying”. Players now aren’t even considering playing test cricket, and younger players seem to have all the shots in the book, but can’t see out a day’s play. Not like Boycott who really would drop an anchor at one end. That’s classed as the good old days, not the modern era.

So white ball contracts seem to be the most talked about thing in English cricket at the moment. The question is how many rather than if it will continue, because there is no doubt that many players will follow suit. It won’t just be in this country, but many others will also have just white ball contracts.

Jack Witham



Nature and nurture: Is English football losing touch with the national team?

After a series of scandals and poor performances, the English Football team are facing a crisis of faith from their supporters.

Rosie Tudball

After a series of scandals and poor performances, the English Football team are facing a crisis of faith from their supporters.

Russia will host the 2018 World Cup ©

The 2018 World Cup is nearly upon us, and after multiple disappointments at major international competitions, the question must be pondered, when will the English national team be successful again?

The past heroes of English football have hung up their boots on the international stage, which leaves heavy legacies to carry for the current England internationals. It’s one of the highest honours in football, and sport in general to represent your country, however, this feeling of national pride in English football has perhaps vanished over the years.

What is to blame?

There are many points of question with regard to the national team, a lack of consistent management being one of a number of issues, another being a severe lack of professional cohesion in the public eye outside of the comforts of the pitch.

With English football comes English football culture. Football in England was regarded as a sport for the working class, at times when hooliganism was rife and alerting, the modern game was still in development. With deep sociological roots to the game, comes a sense of national tradition, a behaviour associated with the sport specifically in England. The country has possessed a huge array of footballing talent over the years; it has also carried countless numbers of unprofessional scandals at the hands of its national representatives.

While revising past success comes revising past mistakes, some mistakes occurring off the pitch where the actions of prolific English players have faced repercussions in the public eye. Such actions aren’t just damaging their legacy but their ability to conform to the title of a role model on the international stage. It could be thought that when such behaviours are portrayed, are national players taking their positions in the national team for granted?  Such questions are elements of the decline of national football – reflecting poorly on results and national support and expectation at major competition.

The story of the lack of professionalism around the English national team camp is best signified when comparing the structure to that of other national teams. The German national team is rigid from the get-go, when a young player is acknowledged by his national team at youth level, he is taught to play the German national team way, with the expectation that he will one day be a senior international. The youth players aren’t regarded as wholly successful until they have reached the peak and played a part in the senior team, however in England, young players are seemingly given far more freedom. Whether this be positive or negative is unknown, however when revising the numbers and quality of young English talent budding through the international ranks in comparison to Germany for example, it’s questionable.

England u21s vs Germany u21s ©Sven Mandel

The nature of the Premier League is also something to raise, considering its conflicting attitude towards English players and their relationship with the press. Players are either adored to the point of overhype or scrutinised to the point that they become a villain to all but their club’s fans. English football is very club over country orientated, and so, the sense of togetherness between fans when it comes to backing the team is less of a unity, and one player of a club is always to blame – there’s always opposition within the fan base.

It links back in the modern game to importance and ego, when young players break-through in England, it can be a disaster. Clubs and the media seem to react in an animalistic way, as if they’ve never seen young talent of a certain magnitude. It becomes a toxic cycle of the media hijacking the success, welded with clubs offering ludicrous amounts of money to young players, giving them a feel of high worth – as they should – and sometimes a polished ego. Giving young talent so much financial power so young can be damaging, and in the viewpoint of young English nationals, the pressure can be too much.

Professionals in the public eye

As stated, young English players often face an uphill battle with the media, especially at the point where their careers begin to flourish. Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish is an example of how the media’s manipulation can make or break a career. Grealish, born and raised in England, decided to invest his national loyalty with Ireland, as he chose to represent the Republic of Ireland at international level over England.

There could be a number of reasons as to why the-then 19-year-old decided to represent the country of his Grandparents; however, one glaring reason is the role of English press in breaking down his development. Take it back to the summer of 2015, Grealish was emerging as an exciting talent in English football, his contributions to his boyhood club, Villa, had earned them a place in the upcoming FA Cup final against Arsenal after showcasing a man of the match performance in the semi-final against Liverpool.


©Ben Sutherland

As Grealish’s career began to hit the headlines, it all came crashing down as The Sun released images of the young star in a drunken state lying on the street, along with information of him inhaling Nitrous Oxide at a party. The images, despite being unprofessional and controversial, were taken 6 months before the date they were published, in what was portrayed as The Sun’s attempt to trip Grealish up on his road to stardom on the English football scene.

Grealish was suspended and was discredited greatly for a period of time by the press, stripping his confidence bare and causing a rebuild of his career. Grealish is finally on the path to restoring his form of 2015, playing in the Championship with Villa.

The theme, and issue, of the press having an invasive relationship with English players is that it has become a regular occurrence that an international finds himself on the wrong side of the road with the media, giving English players and of course the national team, a negative name.

From Jack Wilshere, to Dele Alli, to Raheem Sterling, young English stars have faced the bright spotlights of the media in a way less desired than how they had hoped. The three have things in common, they’re all playing in the country’s top division, they’re all playing for top clubs, they all represent the national team, and they’ve all been caught doing things they shouldn’t be.

Former England captain John Terry has been at the centre of media attention multiple times in his career, as has fellow former captain Wayne Rooney. While the two have had formidable careers on the field, their actions away from the game have arguably smudged their golden legacies as English internationals and Premier League legends.

John Terry has previously been scrutinised in the media ©Paulblank

Two weeks ago, it came to the attention of the press that West Bromwich Albion players had been causing trouble whilst on a training trip to Barcelona. Four players stole a taxi in the early hours of a morning, which was news collected by journalists with salivating mouths.

The most alarming thing about the situation wasn’t just the fact that the four in question were professionals fighting a relegation scrap back in England, but also that the Premier League’s longest serving player, Gareth Barry was one of the four.

Gareth Barry poses as one of the poster boy professionals in English football, with a clear record of personal scandal behind him, alongside a solid Premier League record and an admirable leader in the game. The national uproar when a young player in particular is in the wrong is colossal, but when looking back into the pasts of former England internationals, whom are these players learning to act better from?

Young players and people of the English sporting body would look up to the careers of Barry and the former captains as model professionals, a visage splashed by moments of totally unnecessary madness.

It’s these seemingly annual moments of madness that are dampening the spirits of the English national team, and their reputation as some serious and honourable professionals. It is communicated sometimes that the pride to play for your country is not there, as is the discipline to be, and act as a player representing your country at all times.

An upgrade of maturity and desire is essential

Spirits are dampened by a disunited crowd, a team disunited by individual media portrayal, and a nation crying out for a consistent high-quality manager to serve discipline and cohesion on the pitch to lift the footballing spirits of the nation, away from the comfort of the Premier League.

The Three Lions need to show their hunger and desire where it matters most, Russia is their stage, can they perform?

Rosie Tudball .png

Irish born soccer players: chasing the dream across the water

The first in a fascinating three-part series focusing on Irish football players leaving their homeland to pursue a professional football career.

Ryan Adams

The first in a fascinating three-part series focusing on Irish football players leaving their homeland to pursue a professional football career.


Who wouldn’t want to become a professional football player? The designer cars, houses, watches and clothes; the glamorous holidays in paradise; thousands of fans singing your name on a weekly basis; being the envy of many men and women; and being publicly adored for doing what you love. Within the higher levels of the men’s professional ranks – it would seem – these people are living out their dream whilst earning in a week what many working class households would be lucky to earn in a year, maybe even two years. The perceived lifestyle of these privileged individuals has some understandable pull factors, which is why many young men will go to extreme lengths in pursuing this career.

When coming from a country that doesn’t offer professional football, however, chasing the dream may become somewhat complicated. In this three-part series for, I aim to shed some light on the truths, challenges and pitfalls of Irish-born football players in the pursuit of their aspiration to one day make it in the upper echelons of the game. This first article will set the scene for the series with an outline of the nature of football in Ireland and what processes a player must endure to get an opportunity at a professional club; the second will highlight the experiences of many players living life as a football migrant; and finally the third article of this series will examine the challenges of players who were deselected prematurely, and what they face upon returning to their homeland.

Irish football clubs, both North and South of the border, have traditionally only been able to offer low-wage contracts to the islands best talent. Problematic league structures mean that Irish football is predominantly part-time – part-time wages, part-time coaching, part-time training and an overall part-time mentality. Thus, for aspiring football talent in Ireland aiming to successfully attain a professional career in the game, outward mobility is a necessity. These young players yearn to one day cross the Irish Sea into the footballing ranks in England or Scotland, which are the most common destinations for those deemed talented enough to warrant one of the very limited spaces at a professional club. The crossing of the Irish Sea has given prominence for the term ‘across the water’ to be used commonly within footballing circles in Ireland. Parents, coaches and significant others will often express how they believe their star player will ‘make it across the water’.

Crewe United FC - NI

However this is a highly coveted dream, and to merely even knock the door of a professional club, young players must consistently perform on the pitch from a very young age. Talent scouts, like in most countries, are tasked with visually examining the thousands of young Irish grassroots players hopeful of one day becoming the next George Best or Roy Keane. These scouts subjectively siphon through the masses in order to find a gem, a needle in the footballing haystack that may just be potentially skilled enough to make it at the club they represent. After a thorough and rigorous scouting process, in which the player is observed on several occasions, they will be invited to the professional club for a trial.

Preparing for a football trial is a daunting and nerve-racking experience for young players. This is exacerbated if the player must travel to another country in order to attend. At just sixteen or seventeen years of age, players will travel on a plane or boat to attend what is essentially an assessment which may define the rest of their entire life. These young men often partake in this journey feeling anxious and apprehensive about what the club will think of their footballing ability. When attending the trials, players have cited how isolation may become a factor both on and off the field. Trials are a cut-throat event and every player is a threat to one-another as they are all competing for limited places at the club. Being the only Irish-born player at a particular trial has its difficulties when trying to integrate with players of English and Scottish nationalities, especially if the other players already know and have played with or against one-another. It would seem the Irish player is often the outcast before the trial has begun. Of course this isn’t the case at all clubs, but with players being ‘thrown in’ to the trial without as much as getting to meet the rest of the group, the Irish-born player has little opportunity to develop a rapport with anyone.

Kit set out for game

Failures at this stage are more common than successes. Many will fall at this hurdle, being told by the club coaches that they ‘aren’t the right fit’ or ‘not what they are looking for’. Some players are fortunate enough to be offered trials at various clubs, whereas for others their only opportunity came once and they must hope for one day to be offered another trial. For those who are unsuccessful at the trial stage, the reality sinks in that they must start planning for a career outside of football. Having gotten a bite at the cherry and not progressed, players at this point will normally accept that football will merely be a pipe-dream.

Should the player be successful or indeed if the club believes they are talented enough to skip the trial process – albeit the latter is rare – there are commonly two possibilities. They will be offered a scholarship contract, formally known as a Youth Training Scheme (YTS); or they will be directly signed on a professional contract – again, this possibility is scarce. For individuals entering via the former, the aim is to be signed professionally after their scholarship which normally lasts a maximum of two years. For these players, they must start planning for life away from Ireland and into the precarious world of professional football, where a different series of challenges await.

The next article of this three-part series will shed light on the experiences of Irish-born football migrants whilst at their host club/country. It will examine the challenges of preparing to move away from home, living away from family, the issues many face in their new job, dealing with life as a professional footballer, overcoming boredom, handling injuries and how homesickness may impact on their lives.

Ryan Adams

About the author: Ryan Adams is a PhD student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. His topic specifically focuses on the post-migration experiences of Irish-born football players who have been deselected from their professional clubs. Ryan holds a BSc degree in Sport: Theory and Practice; and an MSc in Sports Development and Coaching. His previous research has focused on player development strategies within the Irish Football Association; and ‘pre, during and post’ migration experiences amongst Irish-born football players. He is also an amateur football manager, having previously managed in the Northern Amateur Football League and Mid-Ulster Football League in Northern Ireland.

Follow on Twitter: @Ryan_Adams11 – Any feedback, critique or questions on this article are welcomed.

Immune function, nutrition and the athlete- Practical recommendations

It’s vital for athletes to take on the correct fuel before and after sport to perform at their peak. Here is our guide.

Ted Munson

It’s vital for athletes to take on the correct fuel before and after sport to perform at their peak. Here is our guide.


Strong evidence indicates that physical activity influences immune function and risk of certain types of infection, such as upper respiratory tract infections (URTI). Many components of the immune system exhibit change after prolonged heavy exertion. During this ‘open window’ of altered immunity (which may last between 3 and 72 hours, depending on the parameter measured), viruses and bacteria may gain a foothold, increasing the risk of subclinical and clinical infection. Prolonged bouts of strenuous exercise have been shown to result in transient depression of white blood cell (leukocyte) functions which may be the cause of impaired immune function, increasing the risk of infection1. This review aims to explore the nutrition applications that aim to combat impaired immune function in athletes.

First and foremost, ensure a varied diet is consumed and do not neglect any macronutrients, especially carbohydrate that is an essential fuel for the cells of the immune system. High-carbohydrate diets are designed to keep the liver and muscle stores of glycogen high to ensure glucose/glycogen availability during exercise and may even help attenuate increases in stress hormone2. Aim to keep carbohydrate at 50% of energy intake and protein at least over 1.2g/kg. A common mistake/ method used by athletes is to reduce carbohydrate intake throughout winter to assist body composition while out of competition. While ”fuelling for the work required” is recommended3, fuelling with carbohydrate helps avoid chronic low energy availability. As a general rule of thumb, when exercising over 90 minutes, consume around 60g of carbohydrate per hour. This helps lower circulating stress hormone and anti-inflammatory cytokine responses, while delaying the symptoms of overreaching during intensive training periods4. Treat this particular session as your “train as you race session” and only practice low energy/ fasting during low- moderate exercise and ensure sufficient refuelling.


When training sessions are performed with low carbohydrate availability, it is not recommended that this is done for more than a few days per week4. If the aim is “weight loss”, athletes are more likely to be infection prone, as such a multivitamin supplement may be beneficial to support restricted food intake4. Athletes reducing carbohydrate intake for training adaptations are risking reduced immune function and a balance must be struck weighing up body composition and keeping well. After fasted sessions with low energy availability, refuelling is key to bolster immunity. Current refuelling guidelines suggest the consumption of 1.0–1.2 g/kg/h within the first hour of exercise cessation and the continuation of a carbohydrate intake of 1.0–1.2 g/kg/h for 4–6 h, or until regular meals resume5.

Athletes should always “eat the rainbow” and take 5+ fruit and vegetable portions per day. Varying colours of fruit and vegetables should be consumed, with varying vitamins and minerals in each different food. For example, spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K and A, while strawberries and kiwis are rich in vitamin C. Polyphenols are a large class of chemical compounds synthesized by fruits, vegetables and other plants that possess health benefits. Flavonoids are the best-defined group of polyphenols in the diet, providing flavour and colour to fruits and vegetables. There are six major subclasses of flavonoids, including flavonols, the subclass that includes quercetin – with research suggesting quercetin supplementation can have anti-inflammatory and pro immune effects, especially when coingested with other flavonoids and micronutrients6. Other evidence suggests that quercetin and green tea can reduce upper respiratory symptoms in highly physical active individuals4. Other flavonoids have also shown positive effects on immune function7 8. Always eat a varied diet and possibly supplement if undergoing periods of food restriction e.g travelling.

Vitamin D has a key role to play when maintaining a healthy immune system9, with many athletes deficient in the winter months5. During winter months, it is recommended to take a vitamin D supplement to avoid deficiency (25(OH) D G50 nmol/L)5. How much? A study on professional swimmers found that a daily vitamin d supplement containing 4000iu of vitamin d was enough to maintain levels for 6 months compared to a placebo10. Other supplements like probiotics may even reduce the risk of gastrointestinal infections by improving gut barrier function11 and may even reduce the duration and incidence of infections in elite Rugby players12. It has also been suggested to take a zinc supplement (e.g lozenge) at the onset of a cold or in the build-up to an important competition, in case a URTI begins at such an important time4.

Considering lifestyle based factors, increasing amounts of evidence suggest that sleep deprivation can have detrimental effects on immune function, and that immune responses feed-back on sleep architecture13. A review examining the link between sleep and immunity concluded that sleep improves immune responses and that most immune cells have their peak pro-inflammatory activity at night13. Disruptions in endocrine and physiological circadian rhythms due to sleep deprivation may result in impaired immune responses14. In addition, while moderate exercise may benefit immune function and provide a range of health benefits, heavy exertion by endurance athletes leads to transient immunosuppression and increased risk of infection15. However, it is unclear what defines “heavy exercise” and may be individual depending on the athletes training status.


More research needs to be done in applied athlete settings to determine conclusions of the effect of nutrition supplements on immune function. However, there is evidence to suggest the use of vitamin D, polyphenols (flavonoids), zinc and probiotics to help promote immune function. An athlete should place emphasis on consuming more fruit and vegetables along with a varied diet. While train low strategies may be practiced, it is important to “fuel for the work required” and fuel longer/ intense sessions for enhanced immune function.



  1. Walsh, N.P., M. Gleeson, R.J. Shephard, M. Gleeson, J.A. Woods, N.C.Bishop, M. Fleshner, C. Green, B.K. Pedersen, L. Hoffman-Goetz, C.J. Rogers, H. Northoff, A. Abbasi, and P. Simon (2011). Position Statement Part One: Immune function and exercise. Exercise Immunology Review, 17, 6-63.
  2. Venkatraman, J. T., & Pendergast, D. R. (2002). Effect of dietary intake on immune function in athletes. Sports Medicine32(5), 323-337.
  3. Impey, S. G., Hammond, K. M., Shepherd, S. O., Sharples, A. P., Stewart, C., Limb, M., & Close, G. L. (2016). Fuel for the work required: a practical approach to amalgamating train‐low paradigms for endurance athletes. Physiological Reports4(10), e12803.
  4. Gleeson, M. (2015). Effects of exercise on immune function. Sports Science Exchange28(151), 1-6.
  5. Thomas, D. T., Erdman, K. A., & Burke, L. M. (2016). American College of Sports Medicine Joint Position Statement. Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise48(3), 543-568.
  6. Nieman, D. C., Henson, D. A., Maxwell, K. R., Williams, A. S., Mcanulty, S. R., Jin, F., & Lines, T. C. (2009). Effects of quercetin and EGCG on mitochondrial biogenesis and immunity. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise41(7), 1467-1475.
  7. Somerville, V. S., Braakhuis, A. J., & Hopkins, W. G. (2016). Effect of flavonoids on upper respiratory tract infections and immune function: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal7(3), 488-497.
  8. Zhang, H., & Tsao, R. (2016). Dietary polyphenols, oxidative stress and antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Current Opinion in Food Science8, 33-42.
  9. Chun, R. F., Liu, P. T., Modlin, R. L., Adams, J. S., & Hewison, M. (2014). Impact of vitamin D on immune function: lessons learned from genome-wide analysis. Frontiers in Physiology5, 151
  10. Lewis, R. M., Redzic, M., & Thomas, D. T. (2013). The effects of season-long vitamin D supplementation on collegiate swimmers and divers. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism23(5), 431-440.
  11. Mengheri, E. (2008). Health, probiotics, and inflammation. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology42, 177-178.
  12. Haywood, B. A., Black, K. E., Baker, D., McGarvey, J., Healey, P., & Brown, R. C. (2014). Probiotic supplementation reduces the duration and incidence of infections but not severity in elite rugby union players. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport17(4), 356-360.
  13. Bollinger, T., Bollinger, A., Oster, H., & Solbach, W. (2010). Sleep, immunity, and circadian clocks: a mechanistic model. Gerontology56(6), 574-580.
  14. Halson, S. L. (2014). Sleep in elite athletes and nutritional interventions to enhance sleep. Sports Medicine44(1), 13-23.
  15. Nieman, D. C., & Pedersen, B. K. (1999). Exercise and immune function. Sports Medicine27(2), 73-80.

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