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Drug testing procedures expert dismisses the importance of drug testing procedures

Feb 24, 2012, 5:43 PM EDT


Best thing about PED stories? If you wait around long enough, you’re going to get a quote from Dick Pound. And who doesn’t love Dick Pound?

Anyway, Pound used to be the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency. WADA styles itself as the foremost experts on drug testing and procedure. If you run a league they’ll even run your testing program for you, because WADA is well aware of just how important and delicate the whole process is.  Amateurs need not apply! Leave the complicated procedures to the professionals!

Except, when it involves an athlete not getting suspended for a drug test as opposed to getting busted, those procedures don’t much matter:

“He’s won on a very thin legal technicality that has no substantive value at all,” said Dick Pound, the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“He’s running around saying that he’s cleared is a misstatement. Anybody who’s at all neutral in this is going to say, ‘Well, he dodged a bullet with that.’ ”

“There was no sign of any tampering, so I don’t understand how a properly formed independent panel could come to the conclusion that that invalidated the test,” Pound said. “It’s not sitting there in the fridge generating false testosterone.”

Well, it wasn’t in a fridge. It was on some dude’s desk in a Tupperware container, but thanks for playing.

And for the rest of you: (1) ask yourself what the point of having procedures is if they don’t make any difference; and (2) the next time you hear Dick Pound or his fellow travelers talking about how important proper testing procedures are, well, feel free to ignore them. If you’re not already.

  1. proudlycanadian - Feb 24, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    His name is Dick and sometimes he goes out of his way to prove it.

  2. jason1214 - Feb 24, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    This all very educational, but it still doesn’t EXPLAIN how Braun tested positive for Testosterone at a 20 to 1 level, now does it?????

    OH wait he is innocent, my bad.

    • paperlions - Feb 24, 2012 at 5:59 PM

      Braun didn’t test positive; the sample submitted did, but there was no way to establish clearly that the sample received by the testing lab was the one given by Braun. It is called chain of custody, and it was devised to ensure that evidence is genuine….as, you know, people with agenda’s have a way of fabricating the evidence they wish existed.

      FWIW, apparently Braun volunteered to take a DNA test to confirm whether or not the sample was his. MLB turned him down. Now, why would MLB do that? If your primary interest is truth, and there is so doubt, why not do it? Braun didn’t have to volunteer to do so. The only reason he could possibly have for such an action would be the belief that the sample wasn’t his.

      • jason1214 - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:05 PM

        C’mon lions? conspiracy theories?
        At his appeal his lawyers didn’t dispute the positive test, only that the “handling” procedures were flawed, now why wouldn’t they dispute the positive test if the sample wasn’t Braun’s?

        As to your argument about the DNA test, MLB wouldn’t need to reconfirm the sample if they believed it to be his, now would they?

        This whole situation reeks, and I just hope for all parties involved they clean it up for the future.

      • saints97 - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:05 PM

        Technically, this isn’t a chain of custody thing. I don’t think the argument was that the guy lost the sample or did not secure it, or that it was not Braun’s sample. I think the problem was that he did not deliver it to Fed Ex immediately.

        As for the rumor about Braun, there are too many variations for that to be true. I have also seen a version that MLB agreed and then Braun backed away. Again, this was never about it not being Braun’s urine. It was about whether or not proper protocol required the guy to take it directly to Fed Ex. If it did, then they certainly got it right. You have to err on the side of the accused on things like this.

        I just don’t think it really changes the sample and the test results as much as many want to believe.

      • davidpom50 - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:12 PM

        The sample was sealed in triplicate (box seal, bag inside box seal, vial inside bag seal) and all seals were intact with Braun’s signature. It was his sample, it contained synthetic steroids, and he absolutely dodged a bullet because the collection guy screwed up.

      • scatterbrian - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:31 PM

        jason: how can you dispute the results when the urine to be tested was mishandled? If the urine is mishandled, the test cannot be trusted. If the test cannot be trusted, the results are irrelevant, meaning there is no need to dispute the results.

      • dondada10 - Feb 24, 2012 at 8:07 PM

        MLB network had the same story about the DNA test, but they said the league then agreed and Braun’s camp pulled out.

      • edavidberg - Feb 25, 2012 at 8:49 PM

        You guys are ridiculous. There is no evidence it was tampered with. I have news for you, the testing procedures for criminal cases are more lax than this. They ship those samples via Fed Ex/UPS/etc. as well and there’s no requirement they ship them immediately.

        Braun got off on a technicality.

    • aberamsey - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:26 PM

      -There is way to much judgement being passed with very little facts. The “refrigerator” story is being passed as fact when there are several different accounts/rumors of how it was supposedly held, from a refrigerator, to a “cold dark basement” to “a tupperware container on his desk”. According to Will Carroll there’s also a lot more to what went into Braun’s defense. According to Carroll Braun’s team didn’t simply argue that the tester didn’t ship the sample correctly, but in fact Braun’s team was able to replicate the heightened testosterone with a sample of his urine stored in similar conditions.

      There’s is no argument that will satisfy the people that will automatically side with MLB on this. They, along with Dick Pound have vested interest in keeping the sanctity of their program. The fact is this was story was leaded and should never have been released because it was never actually a positive test— now MLB is covering their ass by continuing to push the idea of guilt.

      There’s a lot more still to come out on this story.

      • jason1214 - Feb 24, 2012 at 9:20 PM

        I get that, I’m just wondering why many believe its possible the sample was tainted by the collector, despite the fact MLB & the testing facility indicate the sample arrived un-tampered, yet his testosterone was 20 times the normal level.

      • shzastl - Feb 25, 2012 at 1:48 AM

        Assuming the team replicated the heightened levels, that still does not explain Test 2 — that the testosterone was synthetic.

      • jwbiii - Feb 25, 2012 at 9:33 PM

        shzastl, Of course it does. Test 2 was a Carbon Isotope Test, which compares the ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 13 in the testosterone to the ratio of C12 to C13 in another naturally occurring compound in the urine sample, such as cholesterol. Under normal circumstances, the ratios should be identical or very close to it. If they are not the close, the testosterone is said to be synthetic, not produced by the subject’s body. They don’t tell you if the testosterone was produced by bacteria which were quietly living their lives in the subject’s urethra before being sprayed into a sample cup or if it was something that was bought at Victor Conte’s Candy Store.

        The first test, the gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer would tell you the exact same thing. I guess a second test using a different methodology is a good thing.

  3. saints97 - Feb 24, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    Dick Pound. I miss seeing his name in print. We can agree (finally), Craig, that his statement is shortsighted and foolish.

    But urine sitting at room temperature, according to scientists/chemists would not increase the amount of testosterone in the sample. If anything, it would diminish it.

    If proper procedure was not followed (I am still open to the idea that it might have been), then the outcome was correct. But that is far from meaning that Braun was in any way innocent. More like lucky.

    I do know that he’d sure better not have a down season next year, because he will hear the MVPee chants louder and louder if he does not produce at a very high level.

    • gendisarray - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:30 PM

      Feel free to read up on Diane Modahl, gold medal runner from England. She was banned from Olympic competition back in 1994 after her urine sample tested 42x higher than normal for testosterone. She claimed innocence and was eventually cleared after her defense team showed that (see if this sounds at all familiar) storing a urine sample in an un-refridgerated room can cause bacterial growth and produce high testosterone levels in the sample.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:41 PM

        That is the first convincing evidence I have heard in his defense against actually using PEDs.

      • aberamsey - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:45 PM

        According to Lester Munson on ESPN the sample was not stored in a “refrigerator” as everyone is assuming but in a tupperware container on the tester’s desk. This is one of multiple conflicting accounts. This story jives with Will Carroll stating that the Braun defense was much larger than the simple mishandled specimen but centered around replicating the unusually high levels.

        On a side not it amazes me how people who to a person are skeptical about government/big business etc, but will buy MLB’s story hook line and sinker without questioning it at all. We all lose our natural skepticism when it comes to athletes and celebrities for some reason.

      • davidpom50 - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:58 PM

        From the Modahl article: “Also an extremely high pH level suggested the the urine sample had degraded while in the lab, which raised questions about the storage of the sample.”

        They ran tests like these to see if the Braun sample was degraded. It wasn’t.

      • jwbiii - Feb 25, 2012 at 9:43 PM

        davidpom50, At this point, we’re down to discussing life habits, life spans, and decomposition products of species of bacteria. That ice is a little too thin for me to walk on.

  4. jckid21 - Feb 24, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    Are adult film stars allowed to use their stage names at their 9 to 5 jobs?

    • jimbo1949 - Feb 24, 2012 at 8:14 PM

      No, they have to reverse first and last names.

  5. yankees177 - Feb 24, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    So putting it in a tupperware container means testosterone is being generated? Nope. Fact of the matter is they didn’t follow exact collectively bargained procedures and that is the reason Braun won. He tested positive and the tests werent flawed just the procedures. Dudes guilty sorry but no bones about it (except for the procedural bones!)

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 24, 2012 at 8:13 PM

      Dudes guilty sorry but no bones about it (except for the procedural bones!)

      So except for the whole part where the test results are thrown out so the results are invalid, yup you’re right.

  6. Gamera the Brave - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    Craig, I feel like you’re trying to tell us something…
    Nope, I need a bigger sample size of articles and comments…
    Seriously, I think I have reached my Braun article tolerance threshold.
    Time for a Braun-out!
    (gives self rimshot)

  7. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    Everyone understands the Tupperware->Testosterone conversion effect.

    MLB officials argued that there was no question about the chain of custody or the integrity of the sample, and that Braun’s representatives did not argue that the test itself was faulty.

    I think that about says it all. According to the rules, he should not be punished (I guess), but it sure sounds like he got caught. If we are taking players say-so on these things, Manny just wants a baby, Palmeiro NEVER took steroids, Any Pettitte only did it one (wait, you have evidence of twice?) Andy Pettitte only did it twice…etc etc

    I don’t know if double jeopardy applies, but it would be awesome if he just came out and said: Yeah, I took some good s#!t, hit a bunch of homers, won the MVP and now I’m playing 162 baby! I could at least appreciate his integrity at that point.

  8. eshine76 - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    I’ve started a new PED business… Today I peed in a tupperware container and I’m going to let it sit at room temperature for a couple of days. By Sunday it will magically turn into pure testosterone. Drink it and you can add muscle too! You can buy it from me for only $19.95, plus shipping and handling.

    • shzastl - Feb 25, 2012 at 1:44 AM

      It will also magically become SYNTHETIC testosterone, the best kind.

  9. sprest83 - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    Dick Pound is his name? Interesting

    • cur68 - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:31 PM

      That’s what bugs me about this guy, too. He could go with “Richard” but instead he opts for “Dick”. Judging from his statements, given his choice of first name, oh hell yeah, I’m giving a crap what he thinks.

  10. gbpxlvi - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    @jckid21 hahahaha thanks for the laugh

    • jwbiii - Feb 24, 2012 at 7:43 PM

      Yeah, it so much more fun to make fun of WADA when Dick Pound was in charge.

  11. drunkenhooliganism - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    Can we just go back to letting murray chass tell us who’s juicing?

    The world was a simpler place then.

  12. itsmekirill - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    There is no indication and Braun did not argue on appeal that the sample was tampered with or did not come from him. Braun argued that the sample was not shipped as prompty as procedure calls for.

    What you don’t seem to understand, Craig, is that whether it sat in a fridge or on someone’s desk, excess testosterone does not magically accumulate over time in urine samples. That’s why in some other testing programs, “B” samples may be tested weeks or months later as part of the appeal process.

    As a lawyer by training, you should recognize this for what it is: essentially, suppression of evidence to punish police misconduct, not to exonerate the suspect. This situation is analogous to the police performing an illegal warrantless search of Braun’s home and finding video tape of him shooting steroids, only to be barred at trial from introducing the evidence because it was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

  13. crpls - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    You get used to the phony moralists in HBT threads, but these Braun threads really take the cake.

    I hope he wins the triple crown next year.

    Also, thank goodness WADA will never get what they want from MLB.

    • davidpom50 - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:53 PM

      It seems to me Craig is the phony moralist here. “These specific violations of protocol involved specifically in the specific Ryan Braun case would not produce false results” is clearly and obviously not the same thing as “these procedures don’t matter.”

  14. CliffC - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    You were a lawyer, dude. We get it. The exact procedure wasn’t followed, we get it. Leave this to people with an ounce of common sense.

    • phillyphreak - Feb 24, 2012 at 7:09 PM

      So…not you. Cool. Got it.

  15. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    This is the same guy who went around accusing the NHL of having a drug problem based on a gut feeling. I don’t think there’s a person living or dead who takes this Dick seriously.

  16. condeclar - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:54 PM

    Since most of you have obviously not read the rules and procedures document, I have provided the appropriate items below:

    The rule doesn’t say that it HAS to be sent same day. It says SHOULD be sent same day and provides that there might be “Unusual Circumstances”.

    Rules from the Joint Prevention and Treatment Program:

    Sect V. 7. The Collector shall check the “FedEx” box in the section entitled “Specimen Bottles(s) Released to:” Absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the Laboratory on the same day they are collected.

    E. If the specimen is not immediately prepared for shipment, the Collector shall ensure that it is appropriately safeguarded during temporary storage.
    1. The Collector must keep the chain of custody intact.
    2. The Collector must store the samples in a cool and secure location.

    F. When all of the specimens have been collected at the collection site, the Collector shall take the specimens in the appropriate packaging to a FedEx Customer Service Center for shipment. The specimens cannot be placed in a FedEx Drop Box location.

    Based upon what we know, there was no violation of the process. And, clearly there was not breach of the “Chain of Custody”.

    The “Chain of Custody” has to do with the sample being acquired properly with all of the seals and chain of custody documentation.

    How can an intelligent person say that it is a breach of custody if the guy takes the sample home, but it’s ok to send it through Fed Ex????? Plus, it’s common industry practice for the guys to take them home!

    Does Fed Ex store it in a cool and secure place? Come on!

    There was NO violiation of the Process or Chain of Custoday! We know there wasn’t a breach of the chain of custody because the seals were all good!!

    Nothing unusual happened in this case other than the MVP failed a PED test!

    • jwbiii - Feb 25, 2012 at 9:54 PM

      And a few more for you

      E. If the specimen is not immediately prepared for shipment, the Collector shall ensure that it is appropriately safeguarded during temporary storage.
      2. The Collector must store the samples in a cool and secure location.

      B. The Collector should not leave specimens in a car. This will affect the laboratory’s ability to analyze the specimen.

      Like, don’t leave it at room temperature for a couple of days because it could turn into a bacteria culture medium.

  17. phillyphreak - Feb 24, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    I really can’t wait until HBT gets back to normal……

    • dondada10 - Feb 24, 2012 at 8:12 PM

      i.e. Ryan Howard posts.

      • phillyphreak - Feb 24, 2012 at 10:05 PM

        Haha. More or less.

  18. Walk - Feb 24, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    I can tell you this if evidence like this was used against me i would go ballistic. There is a reason courtroom evidence is locked away. The biggest issue is to take away any impropiety. I understand this arbitration process does not follow courtroom procedure but that is the basis of our legal system and like it or not that is the frame of reference from which it will be seen by majority of people here. I am well aware that is part of the problem, but would you want a sample left unsecured like that to be used against you? Odds are that nothing was wrong with it, but that would be a certainty if that sample was locked away or passed directly from a courier to the lab. Not doing so is the issue here and that it has occured before is something i really do not wish to ponder.

  19. bigjimatch - Feb 24, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    The fact that a jury acquitted OJ doesn’t mean he didn’t Nicole Brown and the other guy. The fact that Braun won his appeal becuase a Fedex wasn’t open doesn’t mean he didn’t test positive.

    You want to wipe the slate clean on Braun, that fine. But don’t act like it is unreasonable to think his positive test, coupled with the fact the he did not dispute the test itself or allege tampering, means he did steroids.

  20. shaggytoodle - Feb 24, 2012 at 10:58 PM

    I dont know if this means much to anyone or not. There was a gal named Diane Modahl, I copied and pasted this off her bio.

    Her career nearly ended in 1994 when she was accused of taking the performance-enhancing drug, testosterone. She was sent home from the Commonwealth Games in Canada.

    Modahl engaged lawyers to show that the laboratory in Lisbon had stored her urine sample on a table in a room heated at 35 degrees for three days, which caused bacterial degradation. She has always professed her innocence and was later cleared. She said: “I have declared my innocence, I have never taken any banned substance”.


    It may not have been tampered with, but mistakes happen.

    With all the tests they do and the mishandling of his specimen for the kicker it was one of the perfect storms.

    I will compare aplles to oranges Birth control works 99 percent of the time, but it only needs to fail once.

  21. micker716 - Feb 24, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    “Well, it wasn’t in a fridge. It was on some dude’s desk in a Tupperware container, but thanks for playing”
    So, now the storage temperature and container are responsible for the elevated synthetic testosterone levels?

    • cur68 - Feb 24, 2012 at 11:21 PM

      Yep. There seems to be a credible argument that this could play a big role in the whole thing.

      • micker716 - Feb 24, 2012 at 11:51 PM

        If the testosterone ferments you must assent! Credible argument? Whatever.

      • cur68 - Feb 25, 2012 at 12:10 AM

        Google it. Use the terms: importance cooling urine samples doping analysis.

      • wlschneider09 - Feb 25, 2012 at 1:20 PM

        Cur, are there any peer reviewed publications that you know of to back up the bacterial growth/testosterone increase argument? I couldn’t find any.

      • cur68 - Feb 25, 2012 at 1:56 PM

        Try the “Handbook of Drug Interactions: A Clinical and Forensic Guide” Eds. Mozayani & Raymon, 2011. In particular the section on testing urine for doping agents and the metabolites thereof. See pg 735.

  22. lostsok - Feb 25, 2012 at 12:17 AM

    This is all moot. Here is the relevent–and utterly unavoidable FACTS:

    1. Braun is off the hook. Like it or not.

    2. Braun is going to spend 81 of his 162 games hearing thousands of people chanting “STERRRRROOOOOIIIIDS!” LIKE IT OR NOT.

    He can claim he was framed, that it was a bad test, whatever. But those 81 games are gonna happen no matter what, and only jumping into a time machine and NOT taking PEDs is gonna change it.

    • Kevin S. - Feb 25, 2012 at 9:27 AM

      And if he didn’t take PEDs in the first place, what’s that time machine going to do?

  23. shzastl - Feb 25, 2012 at 1:33 AM

    Craig, you pick and choose the quotes that suit you but ignore inconvenient facts that destroy your argument:

    “In sports governed by the World Anti-Doping Code — the Olympic Games, for instance — the athlete would have to prove not only a breach of protocol, but that the breach caused the positive result, Howman said. ‘This is not the situation in this case.’”

    This is a sensible rule; it is illogical to throw out an otherwise unassailable test result based on a technical/procedural error that has no bearing on the validity of the test. There is no serious argument that the purported breach in protocol caused the positive result here. What rational basis is there for treating any mistake, no matter how harmless or attenuated to the result of the test, as an automatic win for the player?

    • shaggytoodle - Feb 25, 2012 at 2:10 AM

      How can you say it didn’t have an effect on the test how do you know? Apparently thier was enough breach in protocal to make a panel vote 2-1. Will Carroll says that Brauns legal team was able to HOW the test turned out the way it did.

      What if someone with asthma problems uses Advair, and winds up taking a test, the test sits for a few days and gets tested, they test it and a rainbow shows up because the testosterone levels are throught he rough.

      There is still a lot of the story to be told. While I personally believe its an EXTREMELY rare happening, because sometimes miracles do happen unfortunetly so do catastrophes.

    • Kevin S. - Feb 25, 2012 at 9:37 AM

      That is not a sensible rule. The whole reason chain of custody is so important is because without it, there is no way of proving what was done to the sample. We have the collector’s word that the sample sat… well, I’m still not sure if it was in his fridge, in his basement or on his desk. Why should we take his word over Ryan Braun’s, who claims he never took artificial testosterone? Once he took ownership of the specimen, it was his responsibility until he delivered it to FedEx, and Ryan Braun cannot and should not be held responsible for what happened to that sample if it cannot be independently verified. The defense team shouldn’t be required to demonstrate what *did* happen to the sample, only what *could have* happened to it, and they did so. Given that, the onus is on the collector to prove that those events did not occur, and his word is not enough for that. That’s why the delivery protocol exists – to leave no question as to the integrity of the sample.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 25, 2012 at 11:02 AM

        You can’t argue with someone who uses WADA as an appeal to authority. They are about as impartial on the issue of drug testing as one can be. Put it another way, it’s like the Religious Right using the Catholic Church as their appeal on how the country should be governed.

      • shzastl - Feb 25, 2012 at 11:18 AM

        The phrase that there was a “break in the chain of custody” here is a misnomer. There is no dispute that the collector maintained possession of the sample. The issue is that he took it to his home instead of immediately delivering to FedEx. So it is not “chain of custody” it is an (arguable) deviation from the delivery procedure. But there are still two problems with the argument that the violation tained the test:

        1) Even if the collector had immediately driven to one of the FedEx locations, how would storage of the sample in a FedEx store until Monday (it would not have been shipped before Monday in either scenario) have prevented the sample from allegedly spiking in testosterone? I don’t understand Braun to be claiming, for example, that FedEx would have stored it at the correct temperature, whereas the collector may have exposed it to heat. So the “protocol violation” is really not relevant to the result (i.e. a technicality). What they are really attacking is the reliability of ANY samples that are taken on a Saturday and can’t be delivered to the lab until a Tuesday — whether the collector delivers it immediately to FedEx or not.

        2) Assuming the defense team was able to reproduce the elevated testosterone levels in a sample that sat for 2-3 days, that still does not explain Test 2 (IMRS), which shows that the testosterone was SYNTHETIC. There is no explanation for that type of magical transformation.

        Why take the collector’s word for it over Braun? For one, it’s not a “he said, he said” issue because we have the triple-sealed vial accompanied by Braun’s signature. But even if it was, Braun’s motive to lie is obvious — he wants to avoid missing 50 games and losing $2 million in salary. Show me one guilty person who just admits they did it …

      • Kevin S. - Feb 26, 2012 at 8:38 AM

        1) FedEx ships clinical samples all the time – they know how to control the environment it’s stored and transported in.

        2) I dunno, jbwiii explains it pretty well at 9:33 PM (EST) last night further up-thread

        Also, I’m pretty sure Matt Lawton just copped to using when he was busted in 2005.

  24. AJ - Feb 25, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    You’re a great writer Craig, this is one of my first and most frequent stops every day. Having said that, I’m puzzled by your angle on this story. By all accounts the procedure that was followed was far from extraordinary by sample collection standards. Furthermore, anyone supports Braun’s contention that his appeal verdict proves him innocent is turning a blind eye to the truth in the midst of a search for doubt.

    Life is boring, ordinary, and routine. When all signs point to a specific result being true it is. Braun is stone cold guilty and got off on a poor decision even more so than a technicality.

  25. cubear34 - Feb 26, 2012 at 5:15 PM

    Uneducated morton alert. to protect the guilty I won’t mention who insinuated that braun must be innocent because he offered to give a urine sample for dna comparison. That would be great if this guy knew wtf he was talking about. Unreliable dna in urine. Use your smart phone to look it up and maybe get a little smarter in the process.

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