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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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Ranindu, Nethmi crowned king and queen



National Chess Championship 2020

Sixteen year old Ranindu Liyanage of Ananda College, Colombo and Nethmi Fernando of Girls High School won the men’s and women’s titles respectively of the National Chess Championship at Hotel Taj Samudra on Monday.

Ranindu who was playing excellent chess from the start concluded with a total of 10 ½ points (out of possible thirteen). Young Ranindu’s only defeat was at the hands of C.C. Weerasinghe during the penultimate round. His results included three draws against L.M.S.T. de Silva, Lakshitha Randil and Gayantha Dissanayake. He was victorious against all others. Ranindu received a cash award of Rs. 100,000.00, a Trophy and a Gold medal.

Nethmi, meanwhile scored 10 points for her title. She had an excellent start in the first half of the event scoring 6 ½ points in seven games. She had a disappointing start to the second half, suffering back to back defeats at the hands of Sandeepani Tharushi and Newanji Hewawasam but came back fighting to score 3 ½ out of four in the last four rounds. Nethmi, who is also 16 received a cash award of Rs. 60,000.00 apart from the Gold medal and the Trophy.

The National Chess Championship 2020 started on September 11 was conducted by the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka. Holger Seubert, the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany was the Chief Guest at the closing ceremony which was also attended by Sandamali Aviruppola, Principal, Visakha Vidyalaya, Luxman Wijesuriya, the President CFSL and Deepthi Hewageegana, the Deputy President.

Minul Doluweera of Royal College, Colombo also had a memorable event where he scored 10 points out of a total of 13. The dual between Doluweera and Liyanage was crucial as it seperated the winner and the runners up. Doluweera had to satisfy with the Silver medal. He played an exciting game with International Master, Romesh Weerawardena in the final round where a position of famous mating net arrived after Minul’s 21st move.

Fourteen year old, Susal de Silva of Nalanda College won the Bronze medal in the Nationals. Theekshana Denuwan(16) of Ananda College performed well to be placed fourth, while International Master Romesh Weerawardane secured the fifth position.

After losing her first three games of the event Sandeepani Tharushi of Devi Balika came back strongly to score 9 ½ points with Ashvini Pavalachandran of Wicherly International School. Sandeepani got the Silver Medal on the better tie breaker and Ashvini the bronze. Tharushi Niklesha of Visakha Vidyalaya and Women International Master Sachini Ranasinghe were placed fourth and fifth respectively.

The Chess Federation presented a cash award of Rs. 250,000.00 to the Sri Lankan Chess Hero, Master Harshana Thilakarathne of Maliyadeva College who reach the 2400 FIDE Ranking and received the International Master Title from FIDE, the World Chess Federation. He reached this ranking 36 years after FIDE Master Harsha Aturupane reached that level in 1986. Since the CFSL had invited all National Champions of Sri Lanka, former stars such as Aturupane and Harinlal Aturupane and Suneetha Wijesuriya were present at the Awards.

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SLC has a new ‘Formal Clothing Sponsor’



Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) signed a three-year agreement with Namal Balachandra Private Limited, thus choosing the firm as the ‘Official Formal Clothing Sponsor’ of National Teams. The agreement was signed and exchanged between Sri Lanka Cricket and Namal Balachandra Private Limited at the SLC headquarters with Mohan de Silva, Honorary Secretary of the SLC and Namal Balachandra, Chairman and Managing Director of the Namal Balachandra Private Limited signing on behalf of the respective entities.

Under the agreement, Namal Balachandra Private Limited, a renowned apparel and costume designer in Sri Lanka will provide formal clothing to the National Men’s and Women’s Teams.

“We are very happy to have Namal Balachandra Private Limited as our formal clothing sponsor, which comes at a critical time, not only for the game of cricket, but for the entire world, owing to the ongoing health crisis,’’ said de Silva, Honorary Secretary of SLC.

“Therefore, we value this sponsorship immensely, as it shows the commitment of the corporate world to keep Sri Lanka Cricket continue its forward journey,’’ de Silva further said.

Under the agreement, Namal Balachandra will be entitled to use the exclusive title of “Official Formal Clothing Sponsor of Sri Lanka National Cricket Teams,” on all its stationary, promotional material and advertisements during the term. “We are proud to be a part of Sri Lanka Cricket and its forward journey, as we know this tie up will definitely contribute towards enriching the value of our brand,’’ said Balachandra, Chairman and Managing Director of Namal Balachandra Private Limited.

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Perera & Sons steps into Esports with mobile tournaments



Perera & Sons, Sri Lanka’s foremost Quick Service Restaurant facility provider, has announced their first foray into Mobile Esports with two events for mobile gamers. The “P&S PUBG Mobile Series” will feature PUBG Mobile as its stand-alone event with Rs. 100,000 in prize money going out to the top eight placements of the event. In addition, the “P&S Mobile Contenders” event will feature Free Fire (squad based battle-royale) and Call of Duty Mobile (Multiplayer) with a prize pool of Rs. 50,000 split between the two events.

Perera & Sons has partnered with Gamer.LK to take their brand to today’s youth and young adults who are engaged heavily in Esports. Esports is considered the fastest growing sport in the country. Estimates put Sri Lanka’s gaming population at three million, with thousands actively taking part in competitive Esports events throughout the year.

“We are very excited to join with Gamer.LK as we believe Esports will be the future of all sports! It has the ability to encompass and engage enthusiasts, especially female gamers, from all walks of life. With the advent of Covid19 and the many lockdowns the world still faces, Esports has been able to engage people from their very own homes, without the need for physical on-site presence, when even stepping out of the home may not be allowed due to health and safety precautions. We are committed to establishing a solid Sri Lankan Olympic Team for Esports if the IOC accepts Esports as a fully-fledged sport for the Paris Olympics in 2024, and we plan to lobby our highly active NOC to make a case on behalf of Esports to be included as an Olympic sport,” Gihan Perera, the Managing Director of the company stated.

Perera & Sons, founded in 1902, celebrated their 118th year providing meals for Sri Lankans across the island. P&S has modernized their offerings recently with their webstore for online purchasing, partnering with food delivery networks such as Pickme & Uber Eats and catering to a younger consumer with their product offerings.



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