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Minister’s warning on steroid abuse

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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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Ammanford upset Penybont to reach MG Cup quarter finals

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Report by Ian Parfitt

AMMANFORD produced arguably the shock of the third round in the MG Nathaniel Cup with a 2-1 victory at Penybont, who currently sit third in the Cymru Premier League, on Tuesday night (Sept 20).

Penybont started the game well and looked dangerous with ex Ammanford player Kai Whitmore calling the shots.

Ammanford however were also playing some neat football themselves and this was quickly becoming a competitive contest.

Ammanford took the lead in the 28th minute when Brett Enoch took advantage of a moment of calamity in the Penybont defence to fire home.

As expected Penybont increased the pressure on the Ammanford goal in search of an equaliser but Ammanford held firm to go into the interval ahead.

Kyle Marsh in particular having a fine game in the Ammanford goal. Ammanford fans would have been expecting a long 45 minutes after the break but it only took a minute for Penybont to find the equaliser, Mael Davies scoring with a firm header.

Penybont were hungry for more goals and looked especially dangerous from the flanks. The Ammanford defence, who were superb throughout held firm under a barrage of high balls into the box.

Ammanford were also keen to get a second and looked dangerous on the counter attack, both Jordan Langley and Callum Silcox going agonisingly close to restoring the visitors’ lead.

The Ammanford defence continued to form a formidable wall at the back which Penybont were unable to breach.

This fantastic rearguard action was rewarded in the 81st minute when Callum Thomas scored what turned out to be the winner for Ammanford, running through on goal and producing a composed finish to slot the ball past Penybont keeper Alex Pennock.

Ammanford players continued to put their bodies on the line to preserve the lead, epitomised by Tom Pratt who took one on the head in the six yard box.

Lee Trundle spurned a glorious chance to make the game safe for Ammanford with a couple of minutes remaining but it mattered not as the final whistle produced jubilant scenes in the away camp.

Ammanford progress to the Fourth round on what was a glorious night for the club.

Photos by Lawrence Molloy
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Strong Ammanford performance seals Cup win over Whitland

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AMMANFORD got their Division 1 Cup campaign off to an excellent start on Saturday (Sept 17) as they beat Whitland 42-13.

Ammanford built up a 17-3 lead and increased that further to 8-29 before pulling away in the closing stages.

Geraint Jones scored a penalty for Whitland and unconverted tries from Gino Setaro and Lewis Gibby followed.

Captain Alex Davies was named as Ammanford’s man of the match as he lead his side to a bonus point win.

The scrum half was among the try scorers as were Morgan Plimmer, Rhodri Jones, Liam Smith, Carwyn Richards, Mathew Lemon and Tiaan Evans.

Ryan Williams added four conversions and one penalty for the visitors.

The next round of Cup fixtures is scheduled for October 15. Ammanford host Newcastle Emlyn while Whitland travel to Tondu.

Ammanford return to action in League 1 West Central on Saturday, September 24 as they host Birchgrove.

Whitland are also back in league action in League 1 West as they visit Pembroke.

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Howell’s strike takes the points for Cwm

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CWMAMMAN United earned their first three points of the season with an impressive all round performance as they overcame Cardiff Darconians through a sublime Gwion Howell finish at Grenig park on Saturday (Sept 17).

Cwm started on the front foot and their passing and movement was excellent and they twice came close early with Gwion Howell clipping the outside of the post while Sion Dafydd Williams pounced on a back pass but could just not quite get enough leverage on his attempt.

They then saw a 25th min goal by Williams ruled out for a tight offside. With Charlie Davies and Scott Jewell having strong games in the middle of the park Cwm looked the likeliest to score but there was a real scare when a defensive slip required a superb save from Kai Rees in the Cwm goal to keep it goalless.

Kyle Ashford and Keiran Richards continued to run hard at the Dracs defence causing problems but the first half remained goalless.

The strong second half push back that Cwm expected from the Cardiff side didn’t materialise and Cwm continued to have the better of the play. Grant Rees and Callum Dougal were strong at the heart of the defence while Leon Coucher and the ever threatening Cory Saunders were launching attacks from out wide.

Eventually the goal came when some neat interplay saw Howell with his back to goal and the ball at his feet. A superb turn moved the ball to one side and he then fired it across the keeper to the opposite corner..

Great celebrations before Cwm immediately settled determined to see this one through. With Davies continuing to push his team forward and subs Alex Giardelli and Harrison Thomas stretching the Dracs side Cwm saw it through without too much worry.

An excellent performance of which manager Paul Lewis said: “Great to get that first win with the boys who applied our team plan superbly today and they really deserved that result.”

Cwm now look forward to another challenge as they travel to play near neighbours Garden village on Friday evening (Sept 23).

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