Bolt vs Gatlin, ‘Good vs Evil’ and the media’s apparent ignorance and inconsistency on drugs in athletics

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/athletics/11825556/Justin-Gatlin-is-a-bothersome-impediment-to-athletics-rehabilitation-in-the-eyes-of-a-jaded-public.html

The above was posted on the Telegraph website today, and what a joke piece of journalism if ever I’ve seen one. But it echoes the inconsistency of the reporting of ‘drugs cheats’ and random demonising of some individuals in sport.

Justin Gatlin vs Bolt- good vs evil or just bullshit spouting?

Let’s first clarify that of the starting line-up of this 100m final, 4 of the main contenders (Gay, Powell, Gatlin and Rogers) have served bans for doping. Yet the media and the BBC commentary are focussed on slagging Justin Gatlin off and making him out to be evil. Upon Bolt winning the race Steve Cram commentated “He may have saved the sport”- are you serious? How about every single other race in the championship that included previously banned athletes including some British athletes who had missed tests in dubious circumstances?

With more and more athletes testing positive and retrospective tests now showing positive with the improving drug testing techniques what does the future hold? Bolt has “saved the sport”, I wonder what they’ll say if (or when) he and others held in such high regard test positive. It will all just be shown to be a inconsistent journalism and highlight the fact that 90% of athletics (and professional sport) is fuelled by PED’s.

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Are you training for the right reasons?

Have a serious think about why you’re training, and be honest. I did this recently myself and questioned some of the practices I partake in and the reasons I do them.

I read a book recently by Harrison.G Pope called ‘The Adonis complex’ which looks into the unhealthy relationships we increasingly have with food, exercise and our body image. It was a bit of an eye opener in terms of statistics but the gist of the book was unsurprising and something I’ve picked up on myself when looking at other peoples behaviors.

adonis

Many people have unhealthy obsessions with exercise. It seems to be the younger generation’s thing to be obsessed with the way you look (under 30’s?) and more and more emphasis goes into body image and seeking the approval of others. Simultaneously there is less importance on ethics, morals and being a good human being. It’s likely due to the media constantly trying to sell us shit that we don’t need and this usually involves sham sales tactics of creating an insecurity in people in order to make them buy something. A man should look like this, a women should look like this….and this product will help you achieve it. You get the idea.

It’s all about social media these days, being seen in a certain light by your friends (and strangers) and sticking half naked selfies all over the internet in order to gain the approval from others you so badly need to pour water on the flames of truth that you’re likely insecure for some reason or another. I’ll probably get flamed by the naked selfie brigade here screaming “we’re not insecure”…..sorry but however much you say you’re not, you are! Progress photos are great for monitoring improvements but ask yourself why are you sharing these with the whole world on a daily/weekly basis.

I’m pretty sure my dad, my granddad and most other guys of that age couldn’t give two shits about having a six pack or spending 1-2 hours a day working out and missing their family time to get that 17 inch arm to show off on Twitter and Facebook. But then advertising was less aggressive towards these things back then and the big corporations hadn’t then figured out they could manipulate people by playing on physical insecurity (that they created) I guess.

How do you know you have an unhealthy relationship with your body image and/or food?

  • Do you miss social events with friends and family because you have to ‘make the gym’ or train?
  • Avoid eating out with friends and family to avoid ‘ruining your macros for the day’
  • Constantly post half naked selfies on the internet
  • Worry regularly what other people think of your body
  • Weigh every single food item you eat and spend large amounts of your time worrying about macros and calorie counts
  • Waste huge amounts of your time training for aesthetic reasons, as above these may interfere with your normal life.

Some of the above points are not always unhealthy. For example an athlete training for an event may be careful and very particular leading up to an event etc. Also note that  I’m not suggesting that healthy habits and training hard is wrong, it’s absolutely a good thing but there is a line. More importantly is the reasons why you’re training. 

What are good reasons to be training or being very anal about things?

Not many but here are a few-

  • You are a complete fat fuck and should lose some weight in order to maintain health and longevity
  • You have some type of metabolic disease that would benefit from strict dietary intake and exercise

That’s about it and arguably even in these situations there is no need for total obsession

So what should training be about?

  • Health- Weight training is excellent to improve and maintain all health markers
  • Living a longer functional life- Wouldn’t it be good if we could all get out of bed, walk and do normal stuff in our 80’s or 90’s?
  • Training for your sport or hobby
  • Keeping in shape for YOURSELF and not everyone else (so long as it avoids many of the unhealthy points raised previously)
  • Enjoyment of setting goals and achieving them
  • Being the best version of yourself (not aspiring to something unachievable like the pipe dream that is sold to you in the magazines and advertisements)

Health and Fitness Confusion

There are two buzz words used wrongly in the same sentence pretty regularly. The words ‘health’ and ‘fitness’ (I’ve even used them in the same sentence myself!)

This sounds really obvious but anybody looking to improve their health, fitness or sport specific performance needs to fully grasp the difference between health and fitness. This will ensure the training, diet and lifestyle system you use fits in with your goals and you’re not getting sucked into doing things that don’t fit with your goals and wasting your time and effort.

Health, as described in the dictionary, usually is defined as “The absence of disease”

Fitness is “The quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular task”

A person can be very fit but also very unhealthy and the flip side is a person can be perfectly healthy but lacks any specific fitness.

The above said, in most cases a fit person will likely benefit from many health benefits so the chances of being healthy are higher.

Example 1

A marathon runner runs 75 miles a week as part of his or her training. They have numerous niggling injuries. They also have worn their joints down (hips and knees) to the point that this may effect their everyday activities when they’re older. They may also be run down and get a cold or flu fairly regularly. Yet this person is obviously very fit at the specific activity of running, they have decent lower body development and a strong heart and lungs. Somebody able to run a marathon may have diseases too. Lance Armstrong for example got cancer that wasn’t detected for a long time all the while he was cycling competitively- he was fit but very unhealthy.

Example 2

A guy or girl does barely any exercise other than walking to work three times a week, they’re fit in no particular activity and have no real fitness, yet they have a reasonably healthy diet, average body fat levels and no diseases. Ask them to run a marathon or try any physical endeavor that requires fitness and they’ll fail,  they have good health without fitness.

How does this affect your training?

Training should be specific. If you need specific fitness for your sport you should be doing more of the sport and movements that mimic your sport. A marathon runner needs to run 26 miles so training for running this distance requires long steady runs for example as part of their training regime. For health it would probably surprise you how little is required in terms of training, you can likely get all the health benefits that an athlete might gain from as little as 30 minutes total exercise per week. Diet of course need to be dialed towards health to make this work.

In conclusion health and fitness are two completely separate things, some people may only train for health (which is great) but the training you do for health reasons and the training required for fitness are very much different and exercise specificity is key.

Drugs In Sport – Winning At All Costs

Many of us, especially kids, aspire to professional athletes and look up them as positive role models. The physical achievement of making it to the top of your sport as an athlete is always attributed to sheer hard work. What we all don’t know is that many athletes are pure liars and have achieved the greatness they have obtained through drug use.

The naivety of people does shock me a little. I remember back when I was running for a local running club some 10 years ago now, I recall discussing Lance Armstrong and the use of performance enhancing drugs (PED’s). The guys I discussed this with were shocked when I stated that I wouldn’t be surprised if he was taking PED’s. One even got offended and got quite irate, defending his Tour de France hero proclaiming “he’d never do steroids, it would be too risky to his career and health”. Well ten years on and it’s all out in the open….hate to say I told you so.

If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

History of drugs in sport

The use of PED’s in sport is not something new. Notably in the 60’s the East Germans were keen to prove their superiority over others in many aspects (including the Olympics). The East German government initiated a sophisticated doping regime which essentially put all their athletes on steroids without the athletes knowing. They dominated the Olympics at the cost of many of the athletes’ careers and health.

Fast forward to the Seoul 1988 Olympic games. Ben Johnson wins the 100 metre sprint by a huge margin and smashes Carl Lewis. The next day it is announced he fails a doping test. Reports from the time also suggest that most of the entire field who ran the final were on some kind of PED (including Carl Lewis).

The Tour De France. Need I say any more? It’s now common knowledge that most of the field until very recently were all on a cocktail of PED’s including EPO, testosterone, human growth hormone and blood transfusions

American football. Look at the Lyle Alzado story, the whole sport is full of roid heads as he put it.

Baseball. Remember the whole Barry Bonds scandal?

Athletics. I have recollections of Marion Jones swearing in court she had never used PED’s then a short while later she is caught and comes clean and admits everything. Recently Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell received bans too.

You get the idea, drugs in sport is not something new. It’s just a dirty secret that has come to light more recently and been heavily exposed time and time again. Yet we’re all shocked each time it happens and we all look down on the athletes.

So why are athletes taking performance enhancing drugs

If you dangle a 1 million dollar prize on winning, fame and stardom then people will do whatever it takes to win. If that means taking PED’s and sticking a needle in your ass once a week, then so be it. Most of these athletes have everything monitored by a health professional anyway which makes it a lot safer and more importantly effective.

Do you the public want to see average guys doing average things to be entertained? No, we all want to see superhuman people doing superhuman things. Nobody wants to see average things, we all want the boundaries pushed and records broken which puts more pressure on athletes to take PED’s and do whatever it takes to break the records.

Are we the public judging too much?

Yes taking PED’s is cheating, yes it’s wrong and yes it doesn’t set a great example to our kids about achieving things honestly with hard work.

But the way we the public and the media talk about it is a joke. Athletes caught doping are demonised by the media and we all tell each other what terrible people the drug users are.

Rules are rules for sure but this is just sport. Aside from the rules of their sport who are we to judge these people too harshly while we are taking our drugs of choice? We sit there drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, smoking weed, eating fast food, filling our fat ass faces with sugar and burdening the tax payer to pick up the pieces via the NHS. What sort of message does this send to our kids? Taking PED’s is bad because……it’s a health risk? Because the athlete lied? or broke the ‘rules’?

Telling lies is not good of course but we all break rules, we speed in our cars, we steal pens from the stationery cupboard at work, we block toilets up and blame it on others, we lie by telling our kids about santa clause, we lie about our shitty dietary habits, we go against Dr’s orders, people cheat on their spouses, stab their work colleagues in the back for promotion the list goes on. Are we any better or should we get back in our box and take a look in the mirror before judging what others are doing?

But what about drug testing?

Dodging a drug test or passing a drug test is very simple. In fact athletes who fail drugs tests are pretty stupid in my opinion. Many PED’s clear the system in hours, all the athlete needs to do is take a steroid that clears the system quickly, so taking a short ester drug is key. Also many drugs cannot even be tested for, Growth hormone is one, blood transfusions are also nearly impossible to detect. Testosterone is also a controversial drug of choice. An athlete can increase his testosterone level to the top end of the normal range but this is still ‘normal’ and not elevated enough to cause a failed doping test yet the athlete may have doubled his natural levels artificially. There is of course the carbon isotope test now which can detect artificial testosterone but this is a recent thing. There are also a number of masking agents like diuretics that hide the drugs an athlete has taken which all make it more difficult to actually catch drug cheats red handed.

The dopers are often way ahead of the doping testers.

Is it cheating?

Not to defend Lance Armstrong but he had a point when he gave the definition of cheating. It goes like this “Cheating – to gain an unfair advantage on your opposition”. He also pointed out it’s not an unfair advantage if everybody is using drugs, such as the case in the Tour De France in his day. I still think he’s a turd for destroying people’s lives that dared to question his drug use, but this is another issue altogether.

If we consider performance enhancing drugs cheating what else can we consider cheating?

  • A player of a racket ball sport having their eye sight surgically corrected
  • A body builder having surgical implants
  • An athlete having access to state of the art training facilities
  • Creating red blood cells by training at altitude (mimicking the effects of EPO)
  • Training in an oxygen chamber to create the above effect

All of the above are deemed as ‘fair game’ yet they all give the athlete an advantage not given to them at birth, something they wouldn’t be able to naturally obtain without some kind of intervention.

You see it is not black and white by any means. Why not just open up the gates and say anything goes? Take whatever you want, do whatever you want. Then the best man wins anyway.

I’m playing devil’s advocate here to make a point but joe public needs to wake up to the fact that sport is filthy and at one stage or another in an athlete’s career they probably have taken drugs and I don’t really think it’s a big deal. I’m not talking about mediocre athletes I’m talking about those at the very top of their game- The Usain Bolts, the Lance Armstrongs, the Michael Phelps, the guys at the very top end of their sport.

Do I think more athletes will be exposed? Yes absolutely, I’m sure many of the currently ‘clean’ athletes will test positive at some point or another. I won’t be dumb enough to be shocked by it though.

New Year, new you? The 1 month club

I hate New Year’s resolutions for 2 reasons.

  1. New Year’s resolutions seem so gimmicky and pointless. Everyone makes them and mostly everyone fails to stick to them.
  1. They make my gym a breeding ground for the ‘1 month club’ member, as I like to put it. Gyms around the country are full of people who only use their membership for one month before simply giving up. Are you of them? Or do you know someone like this?

What is the problem with New Year’s resolutions?

Well there is nothing wrong with having good intentions, changing your lifestyle, self, job or personality for the better of yourself, others around you and for mankind. I think most people also have a New Year’s resolution because they know it doesn’t matter if they don’t see it through. I just don’t get why it must happen on the 1st of January either.

If you use this practice in everyday life situations you’ll probably agree it seems ridiculous. Let’s use a couple of examples….

Example 1-

Your car has a problem with the engine, do you get it fixed which saves much hassle, money and stress later on and resolve the issue by nipping it in the bud? Or do you ignore it and think to add it to your list of ‘New Year’s’ resolutions?

Example 2-

A certain aspect of your character is causing destructive damage to your relationships with the people in your house and the work place. Is it best to decide to change and address this issue once it is brought to your attention or ignore it and then half-heartedly add it as a New Year’s resolution?

You get where I’m going. Essentially any time in the year is as good a time as any to make any positive changes to your life. This applies to all facets of your life be it work, health, relationships, parenting, mind-set, diet, health and training. Don’t make a resolution in January, make it when an issue comes to light or when you want to make a change. Don’t bury your head in the proverbial sand and ignore things, grab the bull by the bollocks and take it for a ride.

Back to training, diet and health

So you’ve been seeing the scales move the wrong way for a while, you feel like dog shit warmed up, you’re unimpressed by your apparently lack of motivation to train and eat well and you’re turning into a fat fuck? Well don’t decide that you’ll do it in January. Seize the day and do it, do it now!

There is no moment like the present, you need to be an adult and admit you’re not happy with something and then go about rectifying the issue. Again this applies to all facets of your life.

Where to start

Recognition that you want to make a change in your life is the first step. I would then suggest you write down your goals in black and white, make them realistic too. Pin this piece paper to your diary, work station or mirror at home. Fitness goals can be to add size, strength, loose body fat, compete in a show, do a strongman comp or better your athletic performance in your chosen sport. Make these goals measurable- How strong do you want to be, what position do you want in your next competition?

Next you need to arm yourself with the correct and relevant information to give you the best chance of making your goals happen. In terms of bettering your physique you need to read, research and look at scientific studies and books. Also if you can find a decent PT (good luck) consult with him or her and make a plan to set you up for success. Study diet options and buy in the food you need to make it easier.

Make adjustments over time. Don’t be dogmatic in your approach. Take new ideas on board. If certain things are not working for you then change them for example.

The definition of madness is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome”-Einstein

Will power

Something few people have, such as immense wealth, a perfect character or great physique does not come over night. It requires great mental strength in the long term. You may hit a plateau, you may have life situations that stand in your way or stressful times that test your will power. Are you going to just fold and give in? “oh it was too hard so….…” so what? You just jacked in like a giant vagina and gave up?!

See it through, after a time the changes you made to your lifestyle that seemed tough will be standard and you’ll just be riding the wave.

On a personal level this year is going to be pretty tough for me, with health issues and other stuff going on its going to get tough. But fuck it, I’ll meet any adversity head on and not let it destroy what I’m trying to do in general with my physique or my life. Don’t be the dog that rolls over and dies, be the dog that bites back.

Final thought

Don’t be one of these people that buys a 12 month gym membership and uses it for 30 days, act now and start to focus on your health and fitness goals. I guarantee once you start seeing the progress you’ll pick up momentum and gain the ability to carry the mind-set you’ve acquired over into other areas of your life. Apply some of the principles outlined above and don’t hang around waiting for a magic time of the year to start them.

Calling Bull Shit on Health/Fitness/Muscle Magazines

I loved the idiot abroad series with Karl Pilkington. One particular bit I enjoyed was when they asked Karl which super hero he would be. “Bull shit man” was his reply. It would be good if bullshit man could fly into the editing rooms of health and muscle magazines and just point the finger and say “bull shit”. Or better still, a man standing in Tesco looking at a health magazine on the shelf, before he wastes £4 of his hard earned cash bull shit man flies in with his cape on and says “bull shit, don’t do it!”.

You’ll note I’ve used the term ‘health magazine’ and ‘muscle magazine’ when really I mean any magazine that is specifically aimed at men (I don’t want to pick on just one of them).The word ‘Men’s’ and ‘Fitness’ may also heavily feature in the magazine title so I will leave you guys to put 2 and 2 together to find out which magazine I ‘might’ be aiming this at.

What’s the problem?

So what’s wrong with health magazines? Well I’d ask you what’s right about them. You think they’re in business to help people right, or provide ideas on training and diet that help the man of today be as fit and healthy as he wants. All the while basing their articles on science studies and sensible rationale? I’m going to point out the obvious things that are clearly wrong with these magazines, they may be obvious but thousands of us go out and waste money on this tripe each month.

The male model on the front cover

You want to look like the cover model don’t you? In fact the probable main reason you wasted your money on the magazine was because you saw the shirtless guy on the front cover and thought to yourself “I want to look like that”. The reader gets sucked into thinking that this chap on the cover got his physique by following the BS published in the holy grail of training and diet that’s contained in the magazine, and hence if you buy the magazine you’ll get there too.

The truth is the guy on the front has not used the methods in the magazine, instead he’s used a sensible system based on progressive overload training while being strict with his diet. Sorry its true- he didn’t use the ‘abs in 4 weeks’ pamphlet enclosed in the magazine.

Ironic I find it that these magazines always have the words ‘health’ and ‘fitness’ in them yet the cover model I suspect is far from healthy. But he’s shredded with 16 inch guns you say? Well that’s true but the methods he used to get there are far from healthy. The guy has likely used steroids to get the physique he has, not sure many doctors that would agree that injecting 500mg of Testosterone and 250mg of Trenbolone a week is all that healthy long term.  For those of you questioning whether the guy is REALLY using steroids, please wake up from dream land and welcome yourself to the real world. He’s also likely used a diuretic to drop water weight to look shredded on the day which dehydrates him and dries him out giving a more ripped look. Another thing guys do before photo shoots is diet very hard often with low caloric intakes and low carbohydrate intakes again leaving the body depleted. Picture of health?

He’s likely waxed all over before the shoot, he’s either had a spray tan or sat on a sun bed to get the skin tone required. He’s also more than likely ‘pumped up’ before the shoot to make the muscles stand out and make the veins more pronounced.

Then there is the likely airbrushing and photoshop editing that happens to remove any small imperfections. Not to mention the guy will almost certainly have superior genetics than most, he will naturally have a predisposition to holding a low body fat, have a decent muscle mass, have great muscle insertions and when you combine hard work and drugs to this then it’s a perfect storm.

What I’m getting at is the cover model’s physique is a pipe dream to all but 0.1% (or less) of the population (especially naturally) and all that the magazine has achieved by including the cover model is given men insecurity in their own body and of course sell a magazine to you.

Creating insecurity in modern society

How many of your father’s (or any guy above the age of 50) remotely gave two shits about having 16 inch arms, or having abdominal muscles or waxing their chests? I suspect not one of them. Although there were the old school body builders of the 70’s as well as Charles Atlas and Steve Reeves who all had impressive physiques, there was not the constant media bombardment that men have today towards looking a certain way. We’ve all been brain washed. Is there any wonder why young guys have unhealthy obsessions with the gym, take steroids, have eating disorders and waste their money on supplements that don’t work, as well as buying health and muscle mags.

To me it is obvious. The media, which includes health and muscle magazines, tell us that a man should look like a cover model and that this is all that a woman wants. It plays on our insecurities that they’ve created in order to sell you the magazine and the products that are advertised in them. It is all about money and sales at any cost.

The content

But these magazines are pumping out great content right to achieving all your training goals?

Most of what is published in these magazines, in fact 99% or more of what is published is complete and utter bull shit in terms of content. There are no two ways about it. In fact much of what is included in the magazine is usually irrelevant to what the cover is suggesting.

How pissed would I be to spend £4 or so on this magazine that had ‘health’ or ‘fitness’ on the cover only to open up the magazine and find shit loads of advertisements and product promotions, many of which are completely irrelevant which include:

  • Omega watches-Thanks muscle mag. I want to find out how to drop body fat but what I’ve learned is I should be spending £600 on a gold Omega watch that Lewis Hamilton says he wears.
  • Shampoo- You want 17 inch arms? Well forget that, you can have head and shoulders instead. Maybe if you rub it into your arms it makes them grow.
  • Anti-ageing cream-You want some decent dietary advice? Who needs diet when you can reduce the wrinkles around your forehead and eyes buy rubbing some £20 cream into your face?
  • Maxi Muscle protein supplements- No need for a consistent diet, just drink expensive supplement drinks for all your dreams to come true.
  • Sexual advice- In case you have no clue what the fuck you’re doing in the bedroom (which the magazine will convince you) the magazine will include articles on ‘how to send a woman crazy in bed’ which offers tips and techniques in the bedroom. Thanks health magazine, if only I’d had this kind of help before I lost my virginity, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so bad?

Have a look at the picture collage below I created from one of these magazines, the content people are really after is not going to be found in these magazines. You’re just not going to get the results, but I promise you you’ll be poorer and be left clueless in the process.

MH

Burn 3kg of fat with 1 dumbbell in 4 weeks? You heard it here first people. Forget a solid clean diet full of nutrient dense foods at a sensible caloric intake for your goals, a sensible training programme based on progressive overload and doing cardio because….all you need is a dumbbell and 4 weeks (face palm)

Same goes for 16 day abs? If it took just 16 days to go from fatty to 6 pack abs then wouldn’t we all be walking around with a fight club physique?

Running more to gain muscle? How many muscular guys do you recall seeing doing marathons, that’s right-none! Doing a lot of running by definition is catabolic, which means its breaks down the cells in the body including muscle. Excessive running is NOT going to be the most productive way to build muscle. Training with weights and eating is what is needed.

You’ll also see headlines on the front of these magazines such as “Best arm workout for 16 inch arms” or something along these lines. I’d love to know how many times the same magazine has published the best arm routine. I know there is more than one way to skin a cat but the let’s be clear, the elements of building muscle that are required are the same for every muscle group. There is no special way to train, you just need to be consistent, use progressive overload, eat well and monitor over time. Literally everything you need to know about how to build muscle can be explained in one book (or even a few paragraphs), so why do health magazines need to change it or drag it out over 15 years. Wait there is a pattern here! Selling bullshit to insecure guys to sell magazines and products all the while promising more next month to keep you buying more.

Hopefully some of you out there will be able to take something away from this, if nothing though I hope that you all know that bull shit man is out there and he’s watching over us all.

Ground Zero

This website has been a long time in the making, it has been my intention for a while now to start writing about training and all associated topics to provide a free, reliable source of information. It started with a small Facebook group called The League of Lunatics which seemed like a good name, and so the League of Lunatics was born.

I’ve grown bored of reading so much rubbish out there which is usually misleading, contradicting and downright bull shit on many levels. Plenty of people are selling out to push a product that doesn’t work, or sell you PT sessions or ideas which are regurgitated horse manure and bro-science they heard in a locker room.

I figured it was time to stop complaining and to start publishing proper material with no real financial agenda. Had I found and listened to a few people with REAL knowledge back when I started training, I would have saved years of trial and error.

It scares me being in the gym sometimes, hearing kids talking about their training methods, magic potions they’re taking  and their diets – Obviously all obtained from the latest issue of the holy grail of training that is ‘Men’s Health’ (not!).

Nothing is off limits and my articles will likely offend and shock some, as well as wind up some corporations. I’ll be discussing some taboo subjects honestly, such as steroid use, drugs in sport as well as addressing general diet and training issues and any other general rants I feel like having. I plan to try and include some interviews with athletes from all walks of sport to give a perspective from others.

So enough rambling, I’ll be posting up articles periodically on here so keep visiting, sharing and liking. I welcome interaction so leave comments and feel free to contact me for any questions you might like addressed and published.