Tag Archives: Steroids

News That’s Fit To Punt – 29/Jul/2013

Won’t Take It From You

This business of the asylum seekers that arrive by boat being sent to PNG as a deterrent has quite a few critics. Judging from the Q&A panel that I watched the other night it seems nobody gets the point of the policy which is deter people from handing over their hard earned cash and life savings to people smugglers who will put them on leaky boats to Christmas Island. Now, there are all kinds of critics out to brand this policy xenophobic to not tough enough, but you would be surprised at the people who want to piss into this pot.

A more irritating critique came out of Fiji today.

Mr Kubuabola said Fiji was ”decidedly less-than happy” with the PNG deal, saying Australian politics was affecting Fijian affairs and demanded that Australia consult with the region.

”It is our business. Before this goes any further, we want thorough regional consultation … We demand to have our voices heard.”

Mr Kubuabola said that Australia had used its ”economic muscle” to persuade PNG to accept the deal that would see asylum seekers who arrive by boat sent to the country for processing and successful applicants resettled there. The Rudd government has also flagged that the model could be applied to other countries in the region.

”This was done to solve a domestic political problem and for short-term political gain without proper consideration of the long-term consequences,” Mr Kubuabola said.

”This deal and those mooted with Solomon Islands and Vanuatu clearly threatens our interests by altering the fundamental social fabric of any … country that accepts a deal with Australia.”

Now, this s a bit rich coming from Fiji. Fiji has been having coup d’etats every decade since the 1980s because every time they hold elections, the naturalised Indian population’s vote outnumbers the indigenous Melanesian/Fijian vote. The point being, the Military-led Fijian governments are quite the xenophobic racists themselves because the sole point of these coups has been to oust democratically elected governments.

Let’s also not forget that Fiji, like most nations on this planet is decidedly not a signatory to the UN convention on refugees, meaning they are currently not likely to take anybody seeking asylum.

So now, they’re turning around and saying to Australia, they don’t want Australia to send Asylum seekers to PNG because it is going to disturb a kind pan-Melanesian polity by introducing non-Melanesians. There is no other conclusion to draw but that the Fijian government is xenophobic and not really understanding the issue at all. They’d have a bit more credibility in their complaint if they actually were signatories and took asylum seekers.

I’m okay with just about anybody in the region criticising the ‘PNG solution’, but it’s really hard to take Fiji’s complaints seriously.

Will They Really Ban A-Rod For Life?

I haven’t written much about baseball and the Yankees and what have you for a while, but the ugly business of steroids keeps on coming back to haunt us all. now it is this Biogenesis thing which has squarely framed up A-Rod for a big suspension and possibly even a lifetime ban.

Bud Selig was at the Hall of Fame ceremonies in Cooperstown this week and was said still to be mulling what punishment to deliver Rodriguez. It is conceivable he could ask for permanent banishment, akin to Pete Rose. But the belief is no matter the level of evidence — and it has been portrayed that MLB has substantially more evidence on Rodriguez than it does on Braun — it would be hard to convince an arbitrator, if Rodriguez appeals, that Rodriguez’s first suspension should be for life.

Keep in mind, though, that Selig could ask for life knowing the arbitrator could lower the punishment to a shorter duration — or even find that Rodriguez should not be punished at all.

But as a way to levy a sanction that will not be reduced, there was growing belief around baseball that Selig would request the rest of this season and all of next year.

That could be viewed as just about the death penalty for Rodriguez, at least for his playing career. He turned 38 yesterday. He has yet to play this year. The idea that he would not play this season or next season and come back able to play in 2015 after two hip surgeries seems farfetched.

It’s a messy business. None of this is endearing baseball as a game to the IOC to let it back in, but that is a minor point. This A-Rod and PEDs business just keeps ripping the side out of the reputation of the game itself. All of these kinds of revelations and arguing suspensions in various sports across the last two decades have exhausted my tolerance and patience for the topic itself. At this point it wouldn’t surprise me that anybody was on PEDs. I don’t trust any of it on one side, and I’ve learned not to care that sometimes the champions are chemically enhanced. There’s nothing you can do to unscramble the egg.

 

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Lance On Oprah

The Confessional Interview

By now, everybody knows Lance Armstrong ‘fessed up to his ‘roiding ways. All bets are on for a flurry of court cases from people chasing their money and dignity. Still, you sort of wonder how the sport stayed so blind for so long.

As I pointed out before, even if they take away his bronze medal from Sydney 2000 and strip him of his 7 Tour de France titles, you’re left with the accomplishment itself; and God only knows who else was doing what for their placings in all those races. There’s simply no undoing this mess.

Although in the bright light of retrospection given his confession, it seems mightily obvious that something was very awry with the sport of cycling if somebody won the Tour 7 times. A cycling athlete once told me that cyclists could be broken into two rough groups: Short guys with lots of torque leading the way through the mountainous terrain and tall guys pumping their way ahead on the flat plains. There really isn’t a cyclist who is at once both tall and short, so it is hard for a cyclist to be dominant over the field – unlike say the way Pete Sampras or Roger Federer towered over their field. The athlete said that it was highly unlikely the same competitor won 2 Tours, let alone twice in a row.

And here we had an individual winning it a record seven times. Even if they strip him of his wins, nobody is ever going to win as many as seven tours without some kind of help. It’s just that kind of sport and that kind of race. So they can strip Armstrong of these honours, but over time I think the seven abandoned results are going to mean something totally different, for, unlike Ben Johnson’s tainted 100m sprint record from Seoul 1988, nobody ‘doing it fair’ is going to go past 7 wins let alone come close.

And there it would sit, in everybody’s consciousness that one time, a man with the help of medical science was able to accomplish the impossible. We may berate him for being a cheat today, but we may well come to a different understanding at some point in the future.

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News That’s Fit To Punt 23/04/2010

In Brief…

Olympic 400m champion LaShawn Merritt tested positive for anabolic steroids found in his over the counter penis enlargement product.

Merritt, who is also the world champion at 400 metres, said in a statement via his lawyer that he was “deeply sorry” at failing three doping controls for the banned substance dehydroepiandrosterone.

The 23-year-old American, who faces a two-year ban, said: “To know that I’ve tested positive as a result of a product that I used for personal reasons is extremely difficult to wrap my hands around.

Very unfortunate turn of phrase there…

ETS Fight Is Back On

So says K-Rudd.

KEVIN RUDD says the great moral challenge posed by climate change is undiminished and he will keep trying to implement an emissions trading scheme if Labor is re-elected.

In an interview with the Herald, Mr Rudd rejected growing criticism that he had abandoned the climate change cause because it was no longer a vote winner after the Copenhagen conference and the defeat of his emissions trading scheme.

“It’s very clear cut that whether climate change is topical or not, whether it is popular or not, the reality of it does not disappear,” he said.

“This remains a fundamental economic, environmental and moral challenge. Whether it’s newsworthy or not in a particular season is beside the point. We haven’t changed our view of this.”

The Senate has twice blocked legislation for the emissions trading scheme. The legislation is again before the Parliament but the Senate has delayed debate until at least next month and there is next to no chance there will be a vote before the election expected in the spring.

Mr Rudd said that if he is re-elected, he will try again to have a scheme introduced but it would depend on the make-up of the Senate.

”We’ve got to ensure that we act on climate change and we do so always within the scope of our powers. We maintain our position that this is part of the most efficient and most effective means by which we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the least cost to the economy.”

Well it’s good to hear he still has the appetite for putting a price on carbon. There I was thinking that maybe there were secret briefings that told him an Ice Age was coming anyway and made all global warming redundant or something, but clearly that’s not the case.

It’s nice to know it’s on the agenda-radar again.

The Health Deal We Had To Have

A cool article from Peter Hartcher here.

Once the NSW Premier had landed in Canberra on Sunday, Rudd zeroed in on her as his first target. He assessed Kristina Keneally as the most likely of the three recalcitrants to yield because the NSW Government was in the weakest political position of the three, facing an election it’s likely to lose, and was the one most in need of a deal to deliver more hospital funds.

Under the offer already on the table, NSW stood to gain an extra $964 million in upfront Commonwealth health money over four years.

Before going to the dinner that Rudd was to host for all the premiers and their treasurers that night, the Prime Minister sweetened the offer to NSW by hundreds of millions of dollars and asked Keneally to commit immediately.

Keneally was not as desperate as Rudd had hoped, however. She refused to commit and said she needed time to think about it.

Just before all the premiers and treasurers were due to arrive at The Lodge for dinner, the treasurers’ invitation was cancelled. They were told that they would be dining separately at the Hyatt Hotel, with the federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, as their host. The state treasurers were unimpressed when they were led into a small, windowless dining room next to the hotel cafe. They were even less impressed when they tried to discuss key issues with Swan and he rebuffed them.

The state treasurers also asked Swan about the forthcoming Henry review of the tax system. ”No one will be worse off,” Swan told them, and otherwise wouldn’t tell them a thing, not even the date of its release. ”It’ll come when it comes,” he said.

To round out the experience the states again went at each other about the health deal, with John Lenders and NSW’s Eric Roozendaal defending their decision to reject the Rudd plan.

The state ministers concluded that Swan had been sent to ”mind” them so that Rudd could corral the premiers and try to win them over. It didn’t work.

That evening the state delegations heard unofficially that Rudd intended to hold them for a day longer than they had planned, into Tuesday.

The blow by blow of how these people staggered to the finish line is very interesting. Kristina Kenneally is still a stinking mess of a premier and really, this does not raise her from the low estimation in which I hold her; but all the same she did all right to bluff to K-Rudd that “we-was-not-so-desperate-yeah?”

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David Ortiz Was On PEDs In 2003

What Am I Supposed To Feel? Good?

Since the A-Rod thing in spring, we’ve seen Many Ramirez suspended for testing positive to PEDs, and now we find that he along with David Ortiz were two of the 103 names on the list of players who tested positive to random tests in 2003.

Remember how they were supposed to be confidential? A-Rod found out otherwise. Now the leaked names are Ramirez and Ortiz. What’s slightly (and I do mean ever so slightly) interesting about the revelation is that if one team seemed mostly spared by the steroid allegations of the Mitchell Report, it was the Red Sox. Of course, Yankee fans copped the brunt of the steroid circus as Jason Giambi, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez all had to weather the allegations. Of the four, three have come out (for want of a better expression) and admitted the use, while Clemens remains defiant in his denial.

If you’re a regular reader, you know I’ve made peace with the steroid era. However, in burying that era, it’s rankled that Red Sox fans have been on their little moral high horse for some time about the Yankees’ players who got busted. In this light, it’s nice to see that, no, the Red Sox were not magically exempt from the steroid era – indeed they were net beneficiaries as much as any other team, if not more. After all, uhh, count their rings this decade.

Unlike with A-Rod who had to have a terrible press conference this year, it doesn’t seem likely David Ortiz is going to have one. It seems unfair, but that is the difference between being the first and the second in having your name leaked from a confidential list.

Jose Canseco as per usual has said he’s not the least bit surprised.

Jose Canseco, whose 2005 book arguably started the cascade of revelations and an investigation into the performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, barely raised an eyebrow when he was told David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are reportedly on the list of 104 players who tested positive in 2003.

“When you tell me something I didn’t already know, I’ll be surprised,’’ Canseco told ESPN. “And I’ll tell you this, Major League Baseball is going to have a big, big problem on their hands when they find out they have a Hall of Famer who’s used.”

When asked to name who that Hall of Fame player is, Canseco refused to divulge who he believes it is.

“It’s not about naming names,’’ he said. “I’ve never had anything against the players. It’s always been against Major League Baseball. I know who’s on that list, but like I said, it’s not about attacking the players. It’s about the machine that allowed this to happen. What I speak out of my mouth is the truth. It burns like fire. Just remember, I have never lied about this subject.”

…”If you were in the game in the last 20 years, there’s a 95 percent chance you were knowingly using something,’’ Canseco said. “I said 80 percent back then because that was the number of players that I knew were on. But that number was greater.’’

Great.

In any case, it’s been a day of reckoning for Red Sox fans. Watching them try to talk their way around it is a bit embarrassing in as much as there were Yankee fans who tried to do the same. They’ll eventually have to come to the same conclusion that we were all a party to it.

It doesn’t make me feel any better in the sense that the other 100 names are still hidden and until they actually release those names, then there’s going to be this on-going drip effect. And even if they did release it, it’s grossly unfair to the players in that the test results were confidential at a time when PEDs weren’t banned, and we’re clearly judging the past from a different standard that was applied back then.

Then, it’s also been unfair to A-Rod. But then we’re used to the media double-standard there. In any case, the Schadenfreude is nowhere near as good as hoped – I don’t hate Manny or Ortiz. I just like seeing Red Sox fans suffer, but all this is just not the same as making them sit out October.

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Roger Clemens’ Denial

What To Make Of This?

He really sounds like he means it when he says he never did it. Either he’s got extremely selective memory where he’s totally blocked out the fact that he did do it. I don’t think I’ve ever heard somebody have such conviction in their denial, but we all think he’s a liar on this subject, right?

The seven-time Cy Young Award winner also continued to deny that he was given steroids and human growth hormone by his former personal trainer Brian McNamee, saying it was “impossible” that drug paraphernalia supplied to federal prosecutors by McNamee has his DNA on it.

Clemens also said he still considers former teammate Andy Pettitte a friend, though he also held firm to his assertion that Pettitte “misremembers” a conversation in which Pettitte said they discussed performance-enhancing drugs.

“It’s piling on, it’s hurtful at times,” Clemens said of the allegations that have been made against him. “I’m trying to move on.”

Clemens, who is under a federal grand jury investigation for perjury following his testimony before Congress, said he decided to end his silence and react to the book because he plans to leave his Texas home for a week’s vacation.

“I was informed this book was coming out and thought we ought to talk about it,” Clemens told “Mike and Mike in the Morning.” “It’s important for me to do that.”

What a mess. I have no rational reason to believe he didn’t do it, and I have no rational reason to believe he did do it. It’s all circumstantial or bordering on hearsay, the accusations that are being made are simply staggering, and we just get to sit there and condemn the man in a kangaroo court of public opinion. It’s even worse than A-Rod in the sense that Clemens’ denial itself has become a some thing to ridicule – just as much as A-Rod’ apologies on admission. They can’t win. You can’t win. The press can’t win. The courts can’t win. Nobody wins. What a friggin’ mess!

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Athletes As Role Models

Matthew Johns, Group Sex Enthusiast

It’s coming to light that Rugby League celebrity Matthew Johns participated in a bit of group sex with the lads. He’s apologised for ‘it’ though it is unclear what bit exactly for which he is apologising.

ONE of rugby league’s famous faces and a much loved personality, Matthew Johns, is horrified that old claims of sexual misconduct in New Zealand made when he was playing for the Cronulla Sharks have been publicly revisited by the woman involved.

“I am very sorry for all the trauma and embarrassment this has caused for everyone, but particularly for my family,” said Johns about the public outing of his involvement.

Channel Nine, which employs Johns as a rugby league expert, last night went public with his response to the yet-to-be aired allegations about footballers and group sex scheduled for Monday night’s Four Corners on ABC1.

Johns says he had consensual sex with the woman seven years ago and he was upset, particularly for his children, that the woman was making the claims again.

At the time it was known that three Sharks players were allegedly involved in the incident after a preseason game in Christchurch. None of the players was named publicly.

But privately Johns had spoken to his wife Trish about the incident. Last night Johns fronted his usual Thursday night television program, The Footy Show, and spoke emotionally about the drama. “It put my family through enormous anguish and embarrassment and once again for that I can’t say I’m sorry enough … there has been a lot of pain and embarrassment to a lot of people.”

Awesome! Sweet!

What kind of man has Group Sex? In a day and age where we say, “not that there’s anything wrong about that!” about gay sex, we sort of have to ask this question in order to get a sense of what the social norms might be pertaining to this heterosexual activity of group sex by football players. And it has to be said, it is kind of weird to want to have group sex as portrayed by these articles. I’m not sure I would want my team mates watching me shag a girl in a hotel room, and then watch them do the same girl. If I were more poignant, I might point out that I’d rather not have ‘sloppy seconds’ either; so this whole group sex thing has got to be a sub-cultural phenomenon of League players, right?

Then there’s the question of consent in such a context. How do you get consent for something like this? How does a girl find herself consenting to this sort of thing with a group of footballers? I don’t mean to blame the victim here, but it does strain credulity for Johns to say it was all consensual. I mean, did they pass minutes around and counter sign it before hey all joined in the orgy? how the hell does this all work?

Maybe I’m a little squeamish. Then again, I’m pretty squeamish about gay sex as well so I’m in the crowd that says “not that there’s anything wrong with that!” with a great deal of irony.   Y’know, there just might be something *wrong* about it on my own personal level.

Didn’t Seinfeld joke about this sort of thing? I think he said that if one joins in the ‘orgy crowd’, one must change friends, clothes and everything else, and then grow a mustache. Perhaps that is what that Reg Regan’s mustache is all about?

Meanwhile Manny Gets Done

Turns out Manny Ramirez too was on PEDs. He was on Gonadotropin, which he claims was for a sexual dysfunction, but is something that raises the level of Testosterone. Great.

Manny Ramirez is always going to have this 50-game bust for performance-enhancing drugs hanging over him, no matter what he says, no matter whether he comes back strong in July, no matter that he says he tested clean 15 times in the past five years.

With his suspension on Thursday, Ramirez joins Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco and ultimately Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Tejada on the mental list of players who were dirty, or probably dirty.

Ramirez and his helpers can issue all the statements they want about his having been given a drug for a personal health issue and that it turned out to be illegal under current baseball rules, so he must technically take the blame. That is just not going to work.

Too many of us are beyond the giddy time when we could say, poor feller, he should have checked the label on the teabag while he was having a cuppa with the queen. They are responsible. They know that. Athletes spend much of their waking hours not just studying their opponents’ moves but also accumulating information on what will make them bigger, stronger, faster. These people could pass a pharmacologist examination.

It’s quicker to count up the guys who have 300+ HRs that likely aren’t on PEDs now. The currelynt untainted list starts at Ken Griffey, Jim Thome, Carlos Delgado, Chipper Jones, Vlad Guerrero, Jim Edmonds. Of this list,  I feel less confident about Thome, Guerrero, and Edmonds, but I have no proof whatsoever. Count me a Ken Griffey Jr. and Chipper Jones fan for them to make the Hall – until proven guilty, as we’re finding out.

Just to recap for us, here’s Jayson Stark:

We’d all love to believe that Manny’s intent, in taking this drug, was pure and well-intentioned. We’d all love to believe that his “personal health issue” was serious enough to require unorthodox treatment that isn’t even approved by the FDA.But face it, friends, if all the reporting is accurate, that would take the sort of leap of faith only Robbie Knievel ought to attempt.

We also need to recognize something important about baseball’s testing program: Its intent is not to catch innocent people who are using run-of-the-mill prescription medications because of pesky “personal health issues.”

Basically, the list of substances that can get you flagged fall into three categories:

1. Stuff you’d use to cheat.

2. Stuff you’d use to push the envelope as far as possible in the hope of legally enhancing performance.

3. Stuff you’d use to treat a condition that falls under baseball’s limited list of “Therapeutic Medical Exemptions,” such as ADD.

But there are no indications that either Manny or his doctors ever contacted the union or MLB seeking any type of Therapeutic Medical Exemption. So there goes that potential for an innocent mistake. And if that’s out, what does that leave?

He was using whatever he was using to enhance performance. That’s what.

And the rest of the world’s response is hand-wringing and rhetoric. I’ve come to terms with the PED-infested era in my own way. I just look at it as one big load of PR turkey that has come back to roost. We were all doomed the moment we bought into the significance of numbers. They’re just numbers.

In case you want to see a columnist do a mental somersault just to cope, here’s Bill Simmons. Welcome to the world of Yankee fans, Red Sox fans. It truly sucks.

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Enhancing A-Rod

The Olympic Ideal of Performance

I was walking on a flat paved road a couple of days ago, pondering how a flat track pavement would have been a bit of a marvel to a caveman. Maybe it was a marvel even to a human being in the ancient world. You see, I walk across an uneven lawn park to get to the stretch of pavement that leads me to the place where I get lunch. So the difference is noticeable when it goes from the uneven grass in the park to the pavement.

I thought to myself that one could imagine that the ancient olympics might have started this way; that some guys boasting about how fast they ran or how far they could throw stuff, so they decided to create a neutral ground to eliminate the discrepancies of uneven grounds and came up with a flat track. And on this extremely artificial phenomenon of a flat track, they would standardise the conditions for the contestants and let them run.

Nobody really knows how the Ancient Olympics started in the ancient world, but you’d have to figure it had to be about settling who gets the bragging rights as fastest man over 100 cubits or whatever. The point is that the notion of fairness goes hand in hand with the notion of standardised conditions.

All the same, we compare records across time. When somebody breaks a record, it is often in slightly different conditions to when the previous record was set. For instance, in the modern Olympics have been getting tracks that are ‘faster’ then the older tracks. Swimming pools have bee built so as to remove adverse waves, which in turn produce faster results. Modern shoes have been engineered to better specifications than say those of Emil Zatopek. Do we dare even go into the engineering and technologies that go into regattas and bicycle riding?

In all of these cases, what nobody is saying out loud is that technology is helping the athlete more than for which the media or punters give credit. Nobody really questions the records that get broken by historically newer athletes, with better equipment, even though it seems mightily unfair to compare these numbers. After all, we’ll never know what Dawn Fraser would have been able to do in the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre’s pool at her peak. Clearly technology is playing a part in all these accomplishments.

Which of course then brings us to PEDs, notably those used by the East Germans in the 1970s. Some of the records set then have taken a long time to break precisely because it has taken that long for the other technologies to compensate for the absence of the biochemical technology used by the East Germans way back when. Yes, it was grossly unfair that the East Germans were using them and the other athletes were not. Yet it seems to me today that the basis for this ‘fairness’ which creates the moral outrage is actually not quite as cut and dry as WADA and the IOC and the other anti-doping agencies make out.

For instance, Shane Warne underwent a year of being banned from the Cricket because he took a banned diuretic (to look better). It was doubtful he took it to enhance his performance, but he was banned on principle. We won’t go into the fact that this is in stark contrast to Murali who regularly gets pinged for his dodgy action, or the unlikelihood of the diuretic assisting Warnie in getting wickets. The logical corollary of banning Shane Warne is that anybody who is a leggie bowling for the weekend club is going to have their performance enhanced. Not many people buy this corollary to be likely.

The point is that the benefit of the biochemical technology may not be as significant as people give it credit, while other technologies in sport are influencing the outcome to a degree that it might not just be the flat-track that people still believe it to be. As far as I know, nobody has been able to quantify just how much drugs are in sport, and yet any time a name gets linked to it, we turn it into a witch hunt, demonising the person.

Let’s face it, games like cricket and baseball have actually been less influenced by technological agencies as say, even tennis or squash with their new-fangled racquets, or for that matter swimming.  I mean, yes, PEDs in swimming might be a bigger problem than in cricket, but nobody talks about those pools and the borderline-buoyant swimming costumes.

Which brings me I guess to A-Rod. When I look at A-Rod’s accomplishments, I can’t imagine I could do what he has done even with PEDs. It’s not just guess work, it’s probably a statistical likelihood that had I taken gobs of PEDs since my teenage years, I still wouldn’t have ended up playing baseball professionally, let alone reached the pinnacle of performance as he has. Seriously folks, I wanted to be the slugging 3B for the Yankees and be their franchise player but it sure wasn’t to be! 🙂

That would be because I have insufficient talent, as in I suck; And I didn’t try at all once I realised I sucked. Steroids and their ilk alone would not have carried me there.

Given that it does takes more than just getting injections of weird steroidal chemicals to get to where he has got, I think it’s time to actually give some credit back to the effects of true talent and hard work. Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens and Mark Magwire  are/were all amazingly talented dudes who made sacrifices to do what they did. We’re over-rating the effects of Performance Enhancing Drugs every time we subscribe to the witch hunt.

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