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.”
Boxer set to compete in Germany
CARDIGAN light-welterweight boxer Ben Rees-Davies returns to the scene of his greatest performance this week (Oct 19-22) when he competes in the prestigious Eindhoven Box Cup in Germany.
Seventeen months ago, the talented 25-year-old acquitted himself superbly by winning a bronze medal in a tournament which invariably draws some of the finest amateurs in Europe and the world.
Rees-Davies – a lance corporal in the Royal Welsh Regiment – eventually lost in the semi-finals to Russian number one Arman Zakaryan, the 2015 European champion and an Olympic qualifier.
A series of injuries mean that the former Cardigan ABC man has not boxed since losing in the Welsh Championships quarter-finals in March.
But Rees-Davies says he is now fully fit, fuelled by the nagging belief he has never quite fulfilled his potential – and by the fact he may soon have to hang up his gloves.
“I’m entered into an 18-man strong group with boxers from all over the world, it’s a Commonwealth Games qualifying tournament so there will be a fantastic pedigree of boxers,” he told the Herald.
“I’ve had a few frustrating injuries since the Welsh Championships so I haven’t been active, but if anything it’s made me more hungry to get back in the ring and achieve big things this year.
“For me it’s a massive season, and it could be my last so I’m aiming to achieve as much as I can and show my true potential once and for all.”
Rees-Davies said the time was approaching when he would have to focus wholeheartedly on his Army career.
He explained: “I want to progress with promotion. I love boxing with all my heart, but I have to think of my career also.”
He said he was ‘eternally grateful’ to long-time friend Anthony Studley, of Hair Lounge 4 Men in Cardigan – himself a former Cardigan ABC boxer – for helping him with funding.
“I massively appreciate help from him and he’s a credit to the town,” he said.
Aber knocked out by Reds
Aberaeron • 1
Llanelli Town • 6
JD Welsh Cup
LLANELLI TOWN proved too strong for Aberaeron last Saturday (Oct 7), as they were knocked out of the JD Welsh Cup by their Welsh League Division 1 opponents.
With the pitch looking immaculate the scene was set for a memorable cup tie but unfortunately that dream only lasted five minutes.
Aberaeron, who have regularly conceded easy goals from lost possession, were left in no doubt that it should be safety first.
A cleared defensive header from an early corner for Llanelli should have been dealt with but possession was lost and a quick cross was easily headed in to the net.
Before Aberaeron could settle, Llanelli’s star player Lee Trundle beat three players to give himself a sight on goal and he thundered an unstoppable shot in off the underside of the bar.
Aberaeron woke up and Matty Davies was twice through on goal but no end product. Llanelli were passing well and Lee Trundle found himself one on one against Sion Clark. He turned cleverly leaving the defender in his wake and was unceremoniously upended for a clear penalty. Trundle drove it hard to the keeper’s left for number three.
Once more Aberaeron came in to the game, but passes were awry and often intercepted. A long clearance from Llanelli was not caught by Edwards, the Aberaeron keeper and the ball was easily tapped in to an empty net.
The second half was an attempt at a pride salvaging operation and Aberaeron gave a good account of themselves without finding the opponents net.
Trundle was kept at bay for the majority of the half but his trickery once more led to him being fouled in the box and he, once more, slammed the ball to the keeper’s left for five nil.
Aberaeron did get a consolation goal from the penalty spot from Matty Davies before another calamitous defending error gave Llanelli a sixth.
The score did not truly reflect the game but it reflects the ruthlessness of an ex professional striker who, clearly writes his own headlines- quite deservedly.
For Aberaeron, these are worrying times and the next three fixtures are ‘must wins’.
If Aberaeron cannot eradicate the problem of losing simple possession then it’s going to a long and very difficult season.
Aber climb off the bottom
Aberystwyth Town • 0
Barry Town • 0
ABERYSTWYTH TOWN earned themselves a point to climb off the bottom of the JD Welsh Premier League table last Saturday afternoon (Oct 7), as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Barry Town United at Park Avenue.
Both sides missed good opportunities to win the game in the second half, but the game ended in stalemate as both managers settled for a point apiece.
Aber manager Nev Powell made one change to the starting line-up from Tuesday’s Nathaniel MG Cup defeat to Airbus UK Broughton, with John Owen replacing Cledan Davies, which meant Mathew Jones started at left back for the first time in his Black and Greens’ career.
Both sides started the game cautiously, with the game lacking any real rhythm through the first 15 minutes. Barry came closest to opening the scoring on 16 minutes, as Chris Mullock somehow pulled off an instinctive point-blank save from Kayne Mclaggon’s close range shot.
Mclaggon was forced off through injury shortly afterwards, and Macauley Southam fired a long-range effort over the bar for the visitors.
Aber continued to struggle to get any threatening attacking play going, with Ryan Wade shooting well wide of the post on separate occasions.
The half time whistle could not come soon enough for the 233 spectators at Park Avenue.
The first 15 minutes of the second half again proved to be rather uninspiring for the neutrals, as both sides struggled to create clear-cut chances.
On 60 minutes, Aber’s midfield maestro Malcolm Melvin, and soon after striker Craig Hobson were introduced in place of Ryan Wollacott and Joe Phillips, with manager Nev Powell looking for some fresh impetus from his side.
Aber began to slowly crank up the pressure on the visitors’ rear guard, as Ryan Wade shot straight at Barry keeper Mike Lewis, before Hobson almost converted an in-swinging Ashley Young free kick.
Barry themselves continues to look dangerous on the counter attack with the pace of wide men Tyrrell Webbe and Drew Fahiya, but on 87 minutes Aber again came close to the breakthrough as Hobson headed Wade’s cross into the side-netting.
Aber looked for one last chance as the game headed into three minutes of added time, and they very nearly found the winner in the dying seconds as right back Declan Walker brought the ball down from the sky and fired a low shot towards goal, only for it to hit the outside of the post.
This was another occasion where Aber have to settle for a point when it could so easily have been three, but manager Nev Powell will take encouragement from the organisation and defensive qualities his side showed today, keeping their first clean sheet in the league this season.
Town now turn their attentions to their next JD Welsh Premier League fixture away to Llandudno, on Saturday (Oct 14).
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