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Emily Bridges set to mount legal challenge against British Cycling’s transgender policy

“While I have learned not to attach my entire self-worth to cycling, I’ll still be fighting British Cycling’s decision in the courts and the streets,” Bridges recently told Vogue

Emily Bridges, the transgender cyclist at the centre of a storm that engulfed British Cycling over the past year, prompting the national governing body to update its transgender and non-binary participation policies, has confirmed that she is set to mount a legal challenge against those changes.

In May, over a year after it suspended its transgender policy with immediate effect in the wake of Bridges’ controversial exclusion from the women’s British Omnium Championship in April 2022 and following a nine-month review, British Cycling announced its decision to introduce a new ‘Open’ category for competitive events, which will consolidate the existing men’s grouping and run alongside the female category.

> British Cycling updates transgender policy, introduces new "Open" category

In an interview this week with British Vogue – as part of Vogue 25, the magazine’s list of 2023’s most influential women – Bridges said that she will “fight” British Cycling’s new transgender policies “in the courts and the streets”.

Bridges’ mother, Sandy Sullivan, confirmed to road.cc today that her daughter intends to launch a legal challenge against the policies.

In her interview with Vogue, Bridges – who, in the wake of the policy update in May, accused British Cycling of “furthering a genocide” against transgender people – said that despite anticipating the creation of a new ‘Open’ classification, which would effectively ban trans women from competing in the female category, she was still “devastated” by the decision.

“I was 10 when I started cycling competitively. I did a few sessions in a velodrome, and I was instantly hooked,” she said in the article. “Soon after, I began working my way up through the British cycling ranks, setting a national record in 2018 before joining the GB cycling team for a year in 2020. I left the team that year to transition, and in 2022, I was in talks to rejoin the GB cycling team with an eye on the 2024 Olympic campaign.

“However, in May 2023, news came that British Cycling, the national governing body for the sport, was placing a ban on transgender women competing in the women’s category. I had foreseen it happening, but the confirmation was still devastating. Cycling competitively was my life for the past 12 years. But now, I’m divesting from the sport – I have to.”

> British Cycling’s new ‘Open’ category “patently designed to make sure that transgender women will compete at a major disadvantage”, says “perplexed” transgender cyclist

She continued: “Trans inclusion in sports has long been a highly contentious issue due to unsubstantiated concerns about transgender women having a physical advantage over cisgender women.

“At the end of last year, a report by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport found that biomedical factors, such as bone density and lung size, do not pose an advantage for trans athletes, but that social factors – like nutrition and training quality – may do. I have dedicated my body to assisting research currently being undertaken at Loughborough University to shed more light on the issue.”

> UCI bans transgender female cyclists who have transitioned after puberty from competing in international women’s races

Just as in her initial critique of British Cycling’s new policy in May, Bridges once again lambasted what she regards as the governing body’s failure to tackle the sport’s inherent lack of diversity.

“Cycling is still an elitist sport, one where diversity, particularly at a competitive level, is bleak,” she says. “According to British Cycling’s website, the official Great Britain Cycling Team has only three non-white cyclists out of the 55 listed. It should focus its efforts on improving accessibility and making a concerted effort to diversify, not waging a war on trans competitors.

“As a kid, cycling was the thing that made me happiest in the world. But my relationship with the sport is complicated now. My experience over the past few years has tainted the positive memories, and I’ve had to really focus on the things that made the sport so enjoyable in the first place.

“And while I have learned not to attach my entire self-worth to cycling, I’ll still be fighting British Cycling’s decision in the courts and the streets. I’ll continue to march with my trans siblings and use the voice I have to challenge injustice in the world.”

British Cycling declined to comment when approached by road.cc.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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Rik Mayals unde... replied to Boss Hogg | 7 months ago
2 likes

Road.cc used to be a place where you could air your views freely. Some people overstepped the mark, used bad language etc. 

Now, the snowflakes have taken over. This is the world we live in, a world where if you give your opinion on something, and someone else doesn't like it, rather than accept that we all have differing views, giving a balanced response or engaging in a debate, they resort to insults, name calling and cancellation. Or post removal. Basically if we do not like what you have put, even though it isn't racist, homophobic, tramsphobic or threatening we will remove it, because we cannot compute that someone doesn't share our views.

 

If road.cc goes down this slippery slope, they will lose many readers, subscribers and support.

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chrisonabike replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 7 months ago
0 likes

Biker Phil wrote:

If road.cc goes down this slippery slope, they will lose many readers, subscribers and support.

"If" - as the Spartans said.

I was a little surprised the ones that were here went - I think that might have been moderator misunderstanding (e.g. think the posters were simply quoting words Emily had used).

However since the topics of helmets, trans rights (or "rules of certain sporting events") and some of (what used to be) the further fringes of politics are all topics which have been demonstrated to generate much heat and little light, I would probably accept a bit of twitchy moderation here.  (Sure there are other places to chat about that).

IIRC the only folks who actually have got blocked took great delight in saying they thought the site was garbage and wouldn't pay a bean for it.  Support like that I'm pretty sure road.cc can do without.  (Plus they came back anyway!)

...OTOH some have suggested the previously light moderation here is essentially "keep them clicking" (some of said contrarians liked to say that too).  In that case you've absolutely nothing to worry about, except the odd deletion to give an illusion that mods are on top of things.

One or two of the mods have a bias.  Several folks here have pointed out this site's pretty free and easy as they go.  Again - if you really wanna say it how it is there's (former Twitter) - and enjoy "insults, name calling and cancellation" over there.

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Boss Hogg replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 7 months ago
1 like

Yes, it's called political correctness and despite the preached "divergence", no inapropriate views will be tolerated. And Road.cc seems to be part of this newspeak.

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LookAhead replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 7 months ago
1 like

I've left plenty of contrarian and non-pc comments on here (including in this very thread) without any trouble at all. Perhaps the comments getting deleted aren't just for content but for content+tone? (Or perhaps road.cc is just as haphazard with its content moderation as it is with everything else on the site.)

Curiously, what I have been censored and banned for is leaving (friendly) factual and grammatical corrections on articles. They updated the articles based on my suggestions--I was right, after all--but deleted my comments and blocked my account.💩💩💩

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to LookAhead | 7 months ago
0 likes

LookAhead wrote:

I've left plenty of contrarian and non-pc comments on here (including in this very thread) without any trouble at all. Perhaps the comments getting deleted aren't just for content but for content+tone? (Or perhaps road.cc is just as haphazard with its content moderation as it is with everything else on the site.)

Curiously, what I have been censored and banned for is leaving (friendly) factual and grammatical corrections on articles. They updated the articles based on my suggestions--I was right, after all--but deleted my comments and blocked my account.💩💩💩

Sounds like the road.cc mods. They don't like being called out for their incorrectness or anything else.

To them it seems to be easier to cancel differing views - they don't have the guts to ban any of their long term users - I can imagine in real life they are just wibbling jellies. 

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 7 months ago
0 likes

Biker Phil wrote:

Road.cc used to be a place where you could air your views freely. Some people overstepped the mark, used bad language etc. 

Now, the snowflakes have taken over. This is the world we live in, a world where if you give your opinion on something, and someone else doesn't like it, rather than accept that we all have differing views, giving a balanced response or engaging in a debate, they resort to insults, name calling and cancellation. Or post removal. Basically if we do not like what you have put, even though it isn't racist, homophobic, tramsphobic or threatening we will remove it, because we cannot compute that someone doesn't share our views.

If road.cc goes down this slippery slope, they will lose many readers, subscribers and support.

Well said. Or they ban people because the snowflakes here get upset when they hear the truth. And as we know, it's hit and miss if they do ban people...only have to look at some of the shocking insults and so on flying around to see that their tolerance for some users is a lot higher than others. 

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Cugel replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 7 months ago
3 likes

Jeremy Corbyn for PM wrote:

Biker Phil wrote:

Road.cc used to be a place where you could air your views freely. Some people overstepped the mark, used bad language etc. 

Now, the snowflakes have taken over. This is the world we live in, a world where if you give your opinion on something, and someone else doesn't like it, rather than accept that we all have differing views, giving a balanced response or engaging in a debate, they resort to insults, name calling and cancellation. Or post removal. Basically if we do not like what you have put, even though it isn't racist, homophobic, tramsphobic or threatening we will remove it, because we cannot compute that someone doesn't share our views.

If road.cc goes down this slippery slope, they will lose many readers, subscribers and support.

Well said. Or they ban people because the snowflakes here get upset when they hear the truth. And as we know, it's hit and miss if they do ban people...only have to look at some of the shocking insults and so on flying around to see that their tolerance for some users is a lot higher than others. 

Ha ha - two snowflakes complaining about snowflakes! One suspects a degree of solipsism is involved.   1

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Daclu Trelub | 7 months ago
9 likes

"Furthering a genocide."

Hmm, glad she's not being hysterical about it.

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bobbinogs replied to Daclu Trelub | 7 months ago
3 likes
Daclu Trelub wrote:

"Furthering a genocide."

Hmm, glad she's not being hysterical about it.

Funny you should say that:
"Hysteria comes from the Greek root hystera, meaning ‘uterus.’ Originally, it was believed that hysteria and hysterical symptoms were caused by a defect in the womb, and thus, only women could become hysterical".

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Midgex replied to bobbinogs | 7 months ago
1 like

An origin story, but the OED no doubt points to the evolution of language since then.

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Daclu Trelub replied to bobbinogs | 7 months ago
0 likes

bobbinogs wrote:
Daclu Trelub wrote:

"Furthering a genocide."

Hmm, glad she's not being hysterical about it.

Funny you should say that: "Hysteria comes from the Greek root hystera, meaning ‘uterus.’ Originally, it was believed that hysteria and hysterical symptoms were caused by a defect in the womb, and thus, only women could become hysterical".

Glad somebody got it.

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Brauchsel | 7 months ago
13 likes

Nice to see her eliding (pro) cycling's undoubted lack of racial diversity with her ongoing campaign to force women to race against men. 

They're not the same type of thing, and it's as dishonest as their lumping themselves in with gays and lesbians. Your ethnic background and who you're attracted to aren't things you can change, and they don't give you an insurmountable performance advantage over others. 

Your sex also isn't something you can change, but if you're male you do have that performance advantage over an otherwise-equal woman. 

How you choose to present yourself, and which stereotypes associated with a sex you choose to act out, is entirely within your control and you should be free to pick whichever you like. But it doesn't change your actual sex, and so either you compete with your own sex or you accept completely open competition and no women ever winning anything.

If she wants to draw comparisons between trans issues and racial inequality, she might want to consider modern views on people who dress themselves up as members of supposedly "inferior" races. 

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Legin | 7 months ago
27 likes

I do have some sympathy for atheletes who find themselves in her position. However according to the last census 0.1% of the population identified as transgender of that a miniscule % will be elite atheletes.

We seem to be spending a lot of time and resources trying to fix an issue affecting so few people.

Why?

One of the sacrifices they may have to make, to live their lives as the sex they are comfortable with, is elite sport.

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keirik | 7 months ago
14 likes

She seems to have posted "left British Cycling to transition" instead of "got dropped by British Cycling, then decided to transition"

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mark1a | 7 months ago
11 likes

...

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Rendel Harris | 7 months ago
9 likes

I'm curious to know what legal basis Ms Bridges thinks she has to challenge the BC policy, given that the Equalities Act 2010 has a specific exemption from transgender antidiscrimination measures for sport if "the physical strength, stamina or physique of average persons of one sex would put them at a disadvantage compared to average persons of the other sex as competitors in events involving the activity." So as far as I understand that she would have to convince the court that the average male doesn't have a physical advantage in cycling over the average female. I know the trans argument is that she is not the average male, she is a female, but as the law stands I can't really see how she could have a hope of winning a legal challenge.

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thrawed replied to Rendel Harris | 7 months ago
3 likes

From her quote in the article it sounds like she'll be citing that report from "Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport" that says "biomedical factors ... do not pose an advantage for trans athletes" as a challenge to that exception you quoted.

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Rendel Harris replied to thrawed | 7 months ago
5 likes

thrawed wrote:

From her quote in the article it sounds like she'll be citing that report from "Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport" that says "biomedical factors ... do not pose an advantage for trans athletes" as a challenge to that exception you quoted.

The thing is (everything I write here is on the basis that I am not a lawyer, obviously) the courts don't have the right to change or overrule the Equalities Act, they can only interpret and enforce its provisions, so whether it's the Equalities Act or the CCES that's actually correct, it would appear that British Cycling are correctly applying the Act and so she would surely lose if she took them to court. If she wants to mount a legal challenge I would've thought she would have to challenge the government over the law rather than BC over its apparently permitted application of it.

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cmedred replied to thrawed | 7 months ago
3 likes

You realize, I presume, that CCES didn't write a report. It commissioned E-Alliance to write a report. E-Alliance describes itself as "a knowledge sharing hub made up of scholars and partner organizations from across Canada who are dedicated to gender+ equity in sport." The report was not peer-reviewed science. That said, its key finding that "biological data are severely limited" would appear scientifically sound. The report, however, goes on to conclude that "available evidence indicates trans women who have undergone testosterone suppression have no clear biological advantages over cis women in elite sport." That is a far more suspect conclusion given the small sample size for trans-athletes competing at elite levels. And the report's confounding claim that "policies that impact trans women’s participation in elite sport are the continuation of a long history of exclusion of women from competitive sport" has nothing to do with the issue everyone is now confronting - that being whether transwomen have an inherent advantage over biological women on the playing field. With that issue under debate, which is how science sorts things out, the question for sports officialdom in the moment is whether to err on the side of protecting the competitive interests of biological women of whom there are many or permitting competition by transwomen of whom there are few. There is no definitive, concrete answer to whether they have an inherent competitive advantage but various indications that they might, which is what makes this a tough call that parallels some doping issues. For instance, one in four men over age 30 is reported to suffer from low testosterone, and there is a TUE that would allow men with this problem to gain permission to take testosterone. But in most of the world of elite athletics that TUE is almost impossible to get. None of the males competing at the 2012 London Olympics had such a TUE. USADA, the U.S. anti-doping organization, was reported to have issued one in 2013.  Fifty-eight-year-old Jeff Hammond, 5 a not very good CAT 4 cyclist diagnosed with hypogonadism went through a three-year struggle with USADA to get such a TUE. He basically had to demonstrate that he wasn't competitive as a master racer, which made the decision easy. How to set up a system to allow an elite male athlete with the same medical diagnosis to obtain a TUE for testosterone, with its known benefits to performance, is hard, which is why there are no elite cyclists known to have a TUE for testosterone. Is there somewhere out there a very good male cyclist being treated unfairly because he can't get such a TUE? Probably. Does anyone care? Probably not. Why? Because sports are inherently unfair and the rules as regards competitive advantage are all about protecting the majority of competitors. Is that fair to the minority? No. So how exactly does one come up with a way to make this sort of thing "fair" to everyone at the elite level, which is really the only place the trans issue exists given that it's hard to believe anyone would care if a transgender woman entered a women's bike race and finished in the bottom half of the field. 

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mike the bike replied to cmedred | 7 months ago
4 likes

Nicely researched and explained sir.  For my part I was immediately alerted when I read the CCES mission statement which describes them as a "value led" organisation.  That phrase alone speaks volumes.

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Sriracha replied to cmedred | 7 months ago
5 likes

"policies that impact trans women’s participation in elite sport are the continuation of a long history of exclusion of women from competitive sport"

Indeed, I think women would say it was the exact opposite - that preventing erstwhile men from competing in women's sport marks a turning point from the exclusion of women from sport.

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lonpfrb replied to Rendel Harris | 7 months ago
5 likes

Does activism require a rational approach based on quantifiable facts, or is it more an exercise in freedom of speech based on emotions...

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hawkinspeter replied to lonpfrb | 7 months ago
7 likes

lonpfrb wrote:

Does activism require a rational approach based on quantifiable facts, or is it more an exercise in freedom of speech based on emotions...

I don't think a purely emotional argument will gain much traction in a court (unless it's for excusing someone's dangerous driving).

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Rendel Harris replied to lonpfrb | 7 months ago
3 likes

lonpfrb wrote:

Does activism require a rational approach based on quantifiable facts, or is it more an exercise in freedom of speech based on emotions...

Absolutely, and if she wants to have her day in court and air her case then good luck to her, but I can't see it actually advancing her cause at all other than gaining additional publicity for it (not that that is necessarily a bad thing from her point of view).

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cbrndc replied to lonpfrb | 7 months ago
2 likes

"dedicated to gender+ equity in sport."

Equality means equal opportunity.

Equity means equal outcome therefore everybody must win. There is no equity in sport, it's just impossible.

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Rendel Harris replied to cbrndc | 7 months ago
3 likes

cbrndc wrote:

"dedicated to gender+ equity in sport."

Equality means equal opportunity.

Equity means equal outcome therefore everybody must win. There is no equity in sport, it's just impossible.

The dictionary defintion of equity is the quality of equal treatment and fairness, so it's a perfectly good word to use on either side of the argument. It doesn't mean all outcomes are equal.

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Brauchsel replied to Rendel Harris | 7 months ago
7 likes

"Equity" seems to be being used now as a sort of "equality+", with a suggestion that simply treating people equally isn't enough. 

I have some sympathy with that approach, as plain old equality can lead to outcomes of the "well, fit 25-year-old men cycle on these roads so if anyone else doesn't then that's their problem" variety. But when it's stretched to mean "trans people have a rough time in general so men should be allowed to ruin women's sport and anyone who disagrees is to be called a genocidal bigot", it just becomes special pleading. 

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Cugel replied to Brauchsel | 7 months ago
0 likes

Brauchsel wrote:

"Equity" seems to be being used now as a sort of "equality+", with a suggestion that simply treating people equally isn't enough. 

I have some sympathy with that approach, as plain old equality can lead to outcomes of the "well, fit 25-year-old men cycle on these roads so if anyone else doesn't then that's their problem" variety. But when it's stretched to mean "trans people have a rough time in general so men should be allowed to ruin women's sport and anyone who disagrees is to be called a genocidal bigot", it just becomes special pleading. 

Ha ha - men have been ruining womens' everything for several centuries of our culture, society and economics. It's no surprise the the manly strutters want to squash any other sort of gender as well, is it?

Myself I have no opinion of any worth on this subject since, like everyone else posting here, I know insufficient to make judgements and have opinions. And anyway (and to repeat) ...

....Why not cut the Gordian Knot of this "problem" by doing away with gender-based competition categorisations altogether, in favour of competitions that are open? This would follow the notion that sporting competitions are about finding the best at the sport, whoever they are.

Cue various "blasts of the trumpet against the monstrous regiment of women" insisting that they should all be kept in their place because, "They're weaker than we Big Men and not as clever either". As to the gender inbetweeners - get out the pitchforks and the waving-bibles! Light the bonty-fires!! Ready the ducking stools!!!

I know some Big Men fear getting beat by a women; and definitely by any other non-bigman. They will allege that open competitions will see all the women lose, which is unfair. Myself, I suspect these Big Men might be in for a shock.

They've already had many-such, though. Women in charge of companies and even whole nations! Cleverer than even the most masculine of male masters at skools and colliguses. Driving big lorries without crashing!  Gawd!

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Sriracha replied to Cugel | 7 months ago
1 like

Sure, like marathon running. In "open" competition the women's record is faster than the in the women-only category (it's almost like the presence of men sets a faster pace). But still not close to the men's record. So yes, you could just have open competition, but so far no woman would have been the record holder - unless you recognise the results by category...

As to the argument that everybody except ... except who ... is disenfranchised from the debate, gosh, I thought we were against that sort of ethic?

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Cugel replied to Sriracha | 7 months ago
0 likes

Sriracha wrote:

Sure, like marathon running. In "open" competition the women's record is faster than the in the women-only category (it's almost like the presence of men sets a faster pace). But still not close to the men's record. So yes, you could just have open competition, but so far no woman would have been the record holder - unless you recognise the results by category... As to the argument that everybody except ... except who ... is disenfranchised from the debate, gosh, I thought we were against that sort of ethic?

I feel its a mistake to asume that the current metrics of women-only sporting events should be used as some sort of definition of the "natural" limits of what women could achieve. The reason I feel this is that history demonstrates dozens or even hundreds of examples where women once achieved little in this or that but, on being freed of sexist and misogynistic fetters or suppression, emerged and arose to become very good indeed - as good as and sometimes better than the men.

The conditions under which women can train and compete at many sports are not the same, at present, as they are for men. There are various inequalities of opportunity, lets admit. If women are given the opportunity, via a long term switch to open competitions and the same development opportunities as men, time is likely to see women rise to the challenges; and some will eventually beat men at the top of one sport or another.

Consider the latest example of womens football. Once it was laughed at as even an idea. One day, it may be that a womens side superior in skill and tactics may beat a mens side of equal "level. Of course, if sly fouling is still allowed, it might take a year longer.  1

The Big Men seem to assume that all sports are based on strength or the possesion of male hormones.  This is so obviously silly. Many sports are primarily based on skill and intelligent tactics or strategies. There's no reason based in hormones that women couldn't beat men in many sports .... if given the chances and faciities that men have in that sport to get better at it.

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