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Controversial supplement use and suppliers going scot-free



by Reemus Fernando

Reputed sprint coach and Olympian Sunil Gunawardena alleged that a segment of track and field coaches guiding the destinies of Sri Lanka’s top level athletes were ruining their careers by promoting controversial supplements. He said that country’s fastest sprinter in both the boys’ and girls’ categories are now being coached by an individual who imports and promotes supplements. Gunawardena who did not name the individual said that the controversial individual was not a qualified coach.

In an interview with Roshan Abeysinghe in ‘Straight Drive’ on Derana 24, the veteran coach said that authorities have turned a blind eye to unsafe supplements used in the field of sports.

“Currently the fastest boy and girl in Sri Lanka are coached by an individual who has no coaching credentials. He is importing supplements and promoting them among athletes. Tragedy is that he is promoting them even among school athletes,” alleged Gunawardena in the show telecast on Saturday.

The criticism of Gunawardena, who trained the likes of Damayanthi Dharsha to hog the limelight at Asian level, comes at a time when suppliers of controversial supplements have easy access to competition venues and even accompany them to international competitions.

“There is no method to categories harmful supplements and safe supplements. So are those who sell them. One such supplier toured with the South Asian Games team. You could see some of the athletes adoring this person instead of their coaches after they won medals in Nepal last year,” an official close to top athletes told The Island.

Supplements had been blamed for the last two positive drug tests conducted by the Sri Lanka Anti Doping Authority.

A young schools sprinter from Southern Province was found positive for stimulants (Oxandrolone and Epioxandrolone) when SLADA conducted tests at the National Sports Festival in 2018 resulting a provisional suspension. Her ‘B’ sample test also confirmed the positive analytical finding. Months later at the Disciplinary Inquiry the athlete’s lawyers successfully defended her. The Disciplinary Panel in its report said: “the Panel is satisfied that the athlete and her parents have successfully established that they bear no fault or negligence in consuming the Protein Supplement which caused the adverse analytical finding.”

Ironically the athlete’s parents had proved that they had purchased the supplement during an all island schools competition held at the country’s premier athletics venue the Sugathadasa Stadium.

There had been more than one occasion when outstanding performances of young athletes trained by up and coming coaches being attributed to use of supplements than to a properly laid out training plans.

Taking supplements is not prohibited as rightly argued by the lawyers of the young athlete mentioned above. But who can guarantee which supplements are clear of substances banned by the World Anti Doping Authority?

Addressing a group of coaches during an online seminar last month a professor from the Nutrition Society of Sri Lanka said that there was no system to categories protein supplements, mostly whey protein in Sri Lanka. Protein supplements can play a major role in an athlete’s recovery process but unavailability of pure supplements has prevented recognized nutritionists from recommending any.

“There are no pure protein supplements which we can recommend in Sri Lanka. Contents in a protein supplement may vary from consignment to consignment,” Terrance Madujith, a professor on Food Science from the University of Peradeniya told a symposium recently.

Though it is widely believed that there is supplement use in many sports, positive tests were rare. Does that mean the supplements available are clean?

With limited resources, the country’s anti-doping authorities are conducting only 250 to 300 tests per year. According to sources it costs SLADA nearly rupees 35,000.00 to 40,000.00 to conduct one test. There are dozens of national level competitions in track and field alone per year and there are nearly three dozen Olympic sports. Even if it dedicates a major potion of the tests to premier sports, SLADA will be able to test only less than dozen athletes a year in one sport.

With no check or control on supplement use and with limited resources for SLADA to conduct tests outstanding performances are likely to be looked at with suspicion. How long will the coaches and athletes who believe in natural strengths will bear this?

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Will Smeed hits the Hundred’s first hundred to get Birmingham Phoenix off the mark



Will Smeed hit the first hundred in the Hundred as Birmingham Phoenix thrashed reigning champions Southern Brave by 53 runs in a sun-soaked Second City.On NHS Heroes Night at Edgbaston, with NHS workers and support staff invited along as a thank you for their brilliant work, a 14,000 crowd was royally entertained as Smeed socked an unbeaten 101 off 50 balls to lift his side to 176 for 4.Brave replied with a paltry 123 all out as Henry Brookes enjoyed a dream debut on the ground he has always called home. The Edgbaston product took 5 for 25 and two excellent catches in the outfield as Phoenix banked their first victory of the campaign and handed James Vince’s side their first defeat in nine matches.

After Phoenix were put in, they leaned heavily on Smeed after Chris Benjamin, promoted to open, and Moeen Ali each raced to 17 but then perished. Benjamin sent up a skier off Marcus Stoinis before Moeen, having lifted George Garton deep into the crowd at midwicket, chopped James Fuller’s first ball on to his stumps.Smeed galloped to a 25-ball half-century, reached with six over long off off Jake Lintott in a stand of 80 in 44 balls with Liam Livingstone. Livingstone was the top six-hitter in last year’s Hundred, but this time never really hit his stride, scoring just two from his first seven balls and 21 from 20 before lifting Lintott to extra cover.

Into the last ten balls, the big question was whether Smeed could complete his first professional hundred. He needed five runs from the last three, and a four and a two took him to the landmark from 49 balls.Phoenix set about defending their total with an increasingly depleted seam attack, Adam Milne (Achilles) having joined Matt Fisher, Chris Woakes and Olly Stone on the absentee list. But Kane Richardson soon stepped up, bowling Vince with his first ball after the Brave captain had smote Moeen for 16 in three balls in the first set.

Richardson conceded just a single from his first five balls and Phoenix struck again when Stoinis was brilliantly caught by Brookes at short fine leg off Tom Helm.Brookes followed that up in sensational style by striking with his second, tenth, 13th, 15th and 17th balls. Quinton de Kock sent back a return catch, Tim David lifted to deep square leg, Alex Davies was bowled through an attempted scoop and Fuller and Garton were pinned lbw. Who needs Milne, Fisher, Woakes and Stone?

Brookes hadn’t quite finished. At 108 for 7, Brave’s one sliver of remaining hope lay in some pyrotechnics from the big-hitting Ross Whiteley, but when he hoiked Benny Howell to long leg who was waiting underneath the ball? Brookes made no mistake and Phoenix closed out a victory which owed everything to the precocious talent of two young Englishmen.Birmingham Phoenix 176 for 4 (Will Smeed 101*) beat Southern Brave 123 (Alex Davies 33, Henry Brookes 5-25, Kane Richardson 3-19) by 53 runs

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Niroshan Dickwella stars in Greens 8-run win over Reds



Opening batsman Niroshan Dickwella hammered an unbeaten 76 off 56 balls packed with 8 boundaries as Team Greens defeated Team Reds by 8 runs to register back to back wins in the SLC Skyexchange Invitational T20 League 2022 at the R. Premadasa International Stadium yesterday. Batting first the Greens ran up 161 for 6 off 20 overs with Dickwella dominating the innings. Skipper Dasun Shanaka struck 21 off 12 hitting 3 boundaries before getting run out followed by Dhananjaya de Silva 19 off 12 with 3 boundaries and Ramesh Mendis 11 off 8 (1×4).

The Reds did make a match out of it making 153 for 5 but lacked the final charge to make it despite having enough wickets in hand. Bhanuka Rajapaksa top scored with 34 off 28 with 2 boundaries while skipper Kusal Mendis made 30 off 28 with 3 boundaries and Kamindu Mendis 24 off 22 hitting a six.Upfront opening batsman Lasith Croospulle struck 31 off 24 inclusive of 3 boundaries for the Reds. Dickwella was adjudged Player of the Match.


Team Greens 161/6 (20 Overs) (Niroshan Dickwella n.o. 76, Dasun Shanaka 21, Dhananjaya de Silva 19,.Dinesh Chandimal 15, Ramesh Mendis 11, Asitha Fernando 2/32, Sahan Arachchige 1/13, Matheesha Pathirana 1/25, Wanindu Hasaranga 1/30).

Team Reds

153/5 (20 Overs) (Bhanuka Rajapaksa 34, Lasith Croospulle 31, Kusal Mendis 30, Kamindu Mendis 24, Sahan Arachchige n.o. 19, Ramesh Mendis 1/22, Nimesh Vimukthi 1/23, Nuwan Thushara 1/32, Dhananjaya Lakshan 1/39).


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New Zealand juggernaut rolls on with another all-round win



Odean Smith’s all-round show went in vain as West Indies’ batting once again did not manage to come to the party. Chasing 186, West Indies fell 13 runs short in the opening T20I in Jamaica as New Zealand’s juggernaut rolled on.

New Zealand had their returning skipper Kane Williamson put up a solid 47 off 33, and with Devon Conway’s 29-ball 43, the pair gave New Zealand a solid foundation to pile on the runs. There was a rain interruption in the 12th over for almost two hours, and although New Zealand lost momentum, briefly then, they recovered pretty quickly. Glenn Phillips and Daryl Mitchell got starts but couldn’t convert them. It was, however, Jimmy Neesham’s 15-ball 33 in the end that propelled New Zealand towards the finish they wanted. Odean Smith finished with a career-best 3-32, striking at vital junctures to dismiss New Zealand’s top three; else the West Indies could’ve been chasing a lot more.

Tim Southee struck in the second over to dismiss Kyle Mayers, but West Indies would take heart from Shamarh Brooks’s fighting 42 off 43 while wickets fell at the other end as all of New Zealand’s bowlers cashed in. West Indies were reduced to 114/7 with the inevitable end drawing closer, but resistance came, albeit late, of 50 off 23 balls from the eighth-wicket stand Smith and Romario Shepherd.

Smith smashed four boundaries and a six in his unbeaten 27 off 12, while Shepherd struck three sixes and a four in his 31 not out off 16 balls. New Zealand’s spinners shone through once again on a wicket that assisted them, returning four wickets. Santner was the pick with 3-19 in his four leading New Zealand’s defence, making the most of the knowledge gained from his CPL experience.

Brief scores:New Zealand 185/5 in 20 overs (Kane Williamson 47, Devon Conway 43; Odean Smith 3-32) beat West Indies 172/7 in 20 overs (Shamarh Brooks 42; Mitchell Santner 3-19) by 13 runs.


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