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Minister’s warning on steroid abuse

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Rebecca Evans: ‘The use of IPEDs is not just a problem in sport – it is a wider societal issue’

REBECCA EVANS, Minister for Social Services and Public Health, has spoken out about a culture of image and performance enhancing drug (IPED) misuse that is threatening to damage the health of a generation.

Addressing a symposium at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, which brought together key partners committed to tackling the issue, Rebecca Evans said IPED-use is a growing problem – particularly in areas of South Wales.

Many IPED users are young men seeking to enhance their body image, or to improve their performance while participating in sport.

Research in Wales shows that of those accessing programmes for sterile injecting equipment for IPED use, 36% reported having started using IPEDs within the past three years – indicating an increase in usage.

There are significant harms associated with such use, including heart disease and liver damage, as well as those related to mental health, including increased aggression and depression. There is also the risk of infection from injecting drugs.

Speaking ahead of the symposium, Rebecca Evans said: “ The use of IPEDs is not just a problem in sport – it is a wider societal issue. There are a worrying number of young people, especially men, purchasing and taking illicit substances for image reasons and some then participating in community sport.

“We must reverse this culture of IPED use if we are to protect a generation of young people from the serious side effects they can cause.

“That is why I am pleased so many key partners are attending today’s symposium. Working in strong partnership with third sector, health, local government and sporting agencies, we can build on the good work already underway and tackle this issue head on.”

Public Health Wales has carried out significant work to address the problem of IPEDs, including the development of the IPED website to provide information and harm reduction advice for those using or considering the use of IPEDs.

Josie Smith, Head of Substance Misuse for Public Health Wales, said: “Over the past 20 years, we have become aware of increasing numbers of people using IPEDs across a wide demographic. Changing culture and increasing emphasis on male physique, as well as availability of anabolic steroids, growth hormone and new peptides have led to substantial increases both in use but also potentially in perceived pressure to use these drugs.

“It is vital that we ensure three things: that people are well informed and can access accurate information; that no one feels pressure to use IPEDs in order to look a certain way or improve performance; and that anyone using or considering IPED use is able to access and engage with health and other services to address concerns and make informed choices.”

Sport Wales is taking a zero-tolerance approach to IPED misuse in sport. Brian Davies, Director of Elite Sport at Sport Wales, commented: “These are key issues for us because at the heart of sport is fair competition, where people know their responsibilities and compete clean from performance enhancing drugs.

“Education, targeted testing and sporting bans are all tools that have been used to ensure the integrity of sport.

“But it is important that we understand the challenges being faced in our communities and the pressures of modern society, and we can only do this in partnership.

“Now we can make another step forward and amplify the need for people across Wales to be aware of these issues.”

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) is the UK’s national anti-doping organisation working across over 50 Olympic, Paralympic, Commonwealth and professional sports to deter and detect doping in sport. Nicole Sapstead, UKAD Chief Executive, said:

“UKAD continues to be concerned about the number of young people who are turning to steroids for performance or cosmetic enhancement.

“Not only is it a serious issue for sport but it is becoming a serious issue for our society and a generation of young people.

“Today’s symposium is a critical part in combatting IPED use in Wales and we welcome the opportunity to collaborate and discuss the issue with a number of partners in Wales.

“This is a positive step forward in combatting this worrying trend as the use of IPEDs does not fall to one particular agency or organisation to solve. We all play our part in safeguarding the health of our young people.”

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Bush qualifies for Paralympic games

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PEMBROKESHIRE’s Para-taekwondo star Matt Bush has qualified for the Tokyo Paralympic games this summer.

At the European Paralympic Qualification tournament, Bush, who is the current world champion, beat Hungary’s Zoltan Kiss 29-1 in the +75kg final.

Para-taekwondo will make its debut at this summer’s Paralympics with the competition set to take place from September 2-4.

Bush, from St Clears, became Britain’s first ever world champion in the sport in 2019 began his latest tournament in fine style, seeing off Roman Ivaniuk of Ukraine 38-2 in the semi-final.

Matt told BBC Sport that it felt ‘so good’ to have secured his spot in the team.

The heavyweight athlete has made quite the mark on the mats. He has medalled at the Korean Open, Oceania Para Taekwondo Championships and the Pan America Para Taekwondo Open.

The GB team for Tokyo will be officially announced later this summer.

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Lawrenny through in Village Cup

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LAWRENNY are through to the next round of the Village Cup after they beat Llandysul on Sunday (May 9).

Both teams were rained off the previous day but some good work meant that the game was able to go ahead.

Llandysul batted first but were bowled out for 82 in 26.3 overs as Jamie Lewis took five wickets for the visitors.

He went on to finish with figures of 5-22 from his seven overs while the home side’s top scorer was captain Llew Hughes who made a score of 20.

Lawrenny did not have it all their own way in their reply as Rhys Jones bowled well to finish with figures of 3-10.

However, an excellent knock of 52 from Harry Thomas steered Lawrenny to their target inside the 24th over.

Elsewhere, Carew’s game away at Drefach was called off while Cresselly had already received a bye to the next round.

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Lawrenny earn big win over Whitland

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LAWRENNY got their 2021 season off to the perfect start on Saturday (May 1) as they beat Whitland by 189 runs.

Whitland won the toss and elected to field but they could only watch as the home side piled on the runs before being bowled out for 264.

Kyle Marsh top scored with a score of 81 while Kurtis Mars also scored 45.

Tom Cole added 32 and James Phillips chipped in with a score of 29 as they batted well.

Wayne Howells and Jonathan Thomas finished with identical figures of 2-27 as Whitland’s bowling did at least keep the score below 300.

Whitland knew they would need to bat well to knock off the runs needed but came up against Ryan Morton who took four wickets for the loss of 17 runs.

Kurtis Marsh also claimed two wickets without conceding any runs as the visitors chances got smaller and smaller.

Geraint Jones did score 30 for Whitland but that was as good as it got as they were bowled out for just 75.

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