California Officials Increase Fine, Suspension For Avila In Masochistic Case

by | 02.27.2015 | 6:53pm
California stewards were concerned about the ride given to Masochistic in his debut

The California Horse Racing Board released the following update on trainer Antonio “A.C.” Avila on Friday. Avila trains Masochistic, who tested positive for acepromazine at nearly 40 times the legal limit after a fifth-place finish on March 15. Stewards later investigated the ride given to Masochistic in that race. The horse ran on the Kentucky Derby undercard, where he posted a 14-length win in a stunning form reversal that prompted scrutiny by media and officials.

The Board conducted a hearing on the record in closed session February 18 and ordered that trainer Antonio “A.C.” Avila be suspended for 60 days and fined $10,000 for violation of CHRB Rules 1843 (a) and (d) and 1844 (e) (1) and (g) pursuant to Rules 1887 and 1843.3 after the Maddy Laboratory at UC Davis determined the sample collected from a horse in his care, Masochistic, contained acepromazine in excess of the regulatory threshold permitted for urine.

This was after the Board decided during closed session December 18 to reject the hearing officer's proposed penalty of 30 days and a $5,000 fine. By increasing the suspension to 60 days and the fine to $10,000, the Board issued the maximum penalty permitted under CHRB Rule 1843.3 for a Class 3 drug with a Category B penalty classification. Masochistic finished fifth in the ninth race at Santa Anita Park on March 15, 2014. The Board referred the matter to the stewards at Santa Anita Park to set the actual days of suspension and payment of fine.

The stewards earlier disqualified Masochistic and ordered the redistribution of the purse.

  • Richard C

    It is surprising that Masochistic was not asleep for one week after this juicing.

  • Backstretchdirt

    Another slap on the hand for a cheater. The $10k he had to pay is peanuts in comparison to the ticket he cashed in KY.

    • greg

      He had $100k win and $500 exacta

  • Zanytactics

    Another lowlife who got caught cheating. The California Horse Racing Board does not get it. That fine is a joke. Suspend these guys 3 – 5 years. That will send a loud and clear message to the rest of the cheating scoundrels.

  • AngelaInAbilene

    The CHRB gave him the maximum penalty they could. Those that don’t like it should direct their ire at the California legislature, they’re the people that make the rules.

    • Peyton

      Are you sure the legislature makes the rules?

      • AngelaInAbilene

        Every state legislature makes the rules for their Racing Commission or Board. The Commission or Board can only follow what the legislature sends down.

        • Peyton

          I don’t think so. The laws simply establish the structure (such as the commission, etc.) The rules are actually left to the commissions to define and enforce. I think, but if you can provide info otherwise, I would like to learn. Thanks.

          • AngelaInAbilene

            You may not *think* so but that’s the facts. Call one of your elected reps and ask them.

    • hype22redux

      then the chrb should move AGRESSIVELY fr more stringent penalties…they don’t because guess what they are complicent….racing is like the traveling circus,inbred way too much

      • Peyton

        Yes. The three groups are protecting each other. The CHRB’s first loyalty should be to protect the public from illegal racing activities. Instead, the CHRB, the racetrack operator, and the horsemen group cover each others butt. There is a flaw in the system because whatever is bad for any of the mentioned entities is perceived as bad for the other two. There is little if any accountability of the CHRB to the public. These inbred state systems need to be dug into and turned upside down if racing is ever going to be saved. CHRB and other state racing commissions need to be put back in an adversarial relationship with the track operators and the horsemen’s group instead of the partnering relationship which now exists.

      • AngelaInAbilene

        The legislators respond to their constituents, the VOTERS and TAXPAYERS. YOU should contact YOUR elected State Reps and demand reform. Everyone should. Or, you can just complain on the internet.

    • Gaye Goodwin

      Yep – zero tolerance should be the rule.

      • AngelaInAbilene

        From coast to coast and border to border.

    • Dan E

      They might have given him the max on the Ace overage, but they didn’t rule on the race fixing. If they can’t connect the dots-
      The very suspicious ride that alerted the stewards- had them question the jockey and drug test a horse that ran 5th.
      The ace positive at 40x
      The ship to Kentucky on racing’s bussiest day- where huge bets can be hidden- an the horse in question goes on to win by a dozen lengths.

      If you can’t connect those dots to see the “forest” then you shouldn’t be in a position to protect this sport and all it’s participants.

  • Dan E

    Now let’s watch Masochitic race tomorrow at Santa Anita under his assistant trainer and we’ll see the power of the CHRB in action.

    And wasn’t it reported that syringes and needles were found in his barn? No mention or penalties in ruling.

    • hype22redux

      in the beginning of doug oneils last suspension his replacement trainer went on a serious win kick ,you just don’t step in and win like he did without help and part of that help comes in the form of racing secretaries who condition these races …to me a new system should be in place and truly the claiming game should just go away

      • AngelaInAbilene

        His Assistant Trainer took over. The horses stayed on the same program they were always on. Why wouldn’t the horses keep winning? And the claiming game is never going away, it’s the foundation of racing.

        • hype22redux

          oneil historically since the first suspensions has been hitting at 10%….leandro mora was hitting for awhile at 35% oneil now is at 8% …

  • Flag Is Up

    I understand that they gave him the maximum penalty under the rules but what I do not understand is why aren’t they taking this further. Conduct unbecoming & race fixing appear to be slam dunks in this case!

    • Ben van den Brink

      The CHRB should ask the FBI stepping in. As this is an unlawfull action and intended to foul.

      • gls

        and if you think this POS hasn”t done this before then your a fool. Remember a ace down horse running poorly isn’t tested. Then clean on the return trip, nice pay off.

        • Ben van den Brink

          When the bet accounts are traced, it is easy to see, who cashed the big money.
          And that is why you need the FBI, in these kind of cases.

          • greg

            you’re right but nobody’s going to wager where it can be traced, I’ve personally seen AC bet $100,000 cash and win, there’s no paper trail, and NO, no 1099-G either, all bets small enough to avoid

    • AngelaInAbilene

      I don’t understand why none of the Commissions or Boards take it farther. There are Federal Statutes that apply. I *think* it would only take US Attorney’s successfully prosecuting a few and locking them up before the cheaters take heed.

      • Peyton

        There has been very little indication that the feds are going to get involved in racing. Regulating the industry is a states’ rights issue. Aside from the interstate commerce aspect. Don’t hold your breath hoping the feds will rescue racing. Rather, I suggest you work toward changes on the state level. Recently KY has introduced legislation so that commissioners will fall under the ethics laws that apply to state legislatures. This is one step forward at least. Probably not the final answer but at least an attempt to make them more accountable.

        • Ben van den Brink

          Since racing depends for a serious part, in the income from the interstate betting, it is in my humble opinion not just a states rights issue.

        • AngelaInAbilene

          Ethics in politics? That’s funny. I learned a long time ago not to hold my breath waiting for anything.

    • Dan E

      Ray, do we know if any of the CHRB board members who are friends with or have business dealings with Avila recused themselves from ruling on this case? MRs. Auerbach?

    • Peyton

      IMO the reason they(CHRB) do not take this further is mainly because it would reflect badly on the racetrack and the horsemen’s group and they(CHRB)view that as reflecting badly on racing in CA. It would keep people away from the track(buying hotdogs) and reduce handle(eventually reducing purses) and both those aspects would negatively impact the racing in CA (in regards to economics). The system is flawed in that respect. There is no real incentive for the CHRB to take a strong and rightful stance. The other reason they do not defer to the feds to clean up their state mess is because basically they have asked the feds to stay out of it. For the feds to try to enforce state laws about gambling across state lines without being involved in the day to day regulation of such would be a legal and logistics nightmare. If you read the first paragraph of the Interstate Horseracing Act you will understand the feds state ‘ its up to the states to decide if they want to allow gambling’. Excuse my paraphrase.

      • togahombre

        ray tweeted the chrb is still investigating other aspects of the masochistic case

  • Pat SayJack

    10k, that was what he tipped the waiter at the Derby Day celebration after banking. Let’s face it, 10k is petty cash, put teeth in the fines or don’t even bother. The days are even less of an impost, training by Iphone and all that.

    PS You think they shipped to KY for the roses? Who knows what they bet…. 100k, 200k, 500k? I’m sure it wasn’t just race watchers, as Jeff Seigel tweeted, it was serious barn coin.

  • Avila (trainer of “Masochist”) : “Fine me! Suspend me!”

    CHRC (coldly): “No.”

  • just an observer

    A weak penalty for a serious offense. 40 times the legal limit? The amount OVER the allowed amount should be considered in making these rulings. This guy should be suspended for years if not life

    • AngelaInAbilene

      They gave him the MAX under current California law. Take it up the California legislature because this time the CHRB did all they could.

  • biggar

    Avila is still alive, so we posters are not appeased.

  • Andy

    I cant believe it takes this long to come up with a verdict…..

  • kelly_94089

    Not safe for any of the riders or horses in the race if he was that drugged. Just a complete lack of consideration for all involved.

    • Bubba

      not really any more unsafe than the jockeys allowed to ride on opiate pain killers. As long as they have a prescription. Why put more scrutiny on the horses than the jockeys? (I actually agree with you, but the jockey issue needs some more attention.)

      • kelly_94089

        No disagreement. When I send out a horse I would like no added danger beyond that inherent to the sport.

  • youcantmakeitup

    Ok, who is the program trainer going to be? Trainer gets suspension, appeals till he cant appeal anymore. Then the program trainer steps in. Avila gets to go on a restful, relaxing vacation. What a game!

    • h

      Diodoro is back up in a day or two, he can take over.

      • JJ

        Why he has Sean Williams another young high percentage trainer.

  • G. Rarick

    It’s unbelievable that this is the maximum penalty for this kind of case. You’re practically begging people to cheat here. (And by the way, you guys must have been just waiting for a case that offers headline-writing possibilities like this one – an editor’s dream!)

    • Ben van den Brink

      What would the fine be in France in this case??

      • G. Rarick

        Hard to say, but I’d suspect they’d take your license indefinitely. It would certainly be a minum of years, not months.

      • 4Bellwether666

        They might be able to lock him up…If not they should be able to…

  • gls

    This man went out of his way to manipulate the out come of a race, (not the first time)and the Fed doesn’t care so then the CHRB should throw this POS out for good. This game is a joke!!!

    • 4Bellwether666

      The Gamblers just take another huge SCREWING!!!…I hate to say it but a JOKE is a understatement to what is going down with ‘The Game’…

      • Bill O’Gorman

        Presumably some of the more wide awake gamblers on this site saw which way the wind was blowing and joined in.

        • 4Bellwether666

          You know that’s a fact!!!…ty…

  • Racing Fan

    This is the type of trainer who not only needs kicked out of the game but shoukd be arrested for race fixing.

    • 4Bellwether666

      THANK YOU!!!…

  • This high-profile case has horseplayers up in arms, and deservedly so, because it was such an in-your-face move reminiscent of days of yore. Avila mined a rich vein prospected by horsemen for years when using the large pools on Derby Day to hit the jackpot. But this blatant disregard for fair play pales in comparison to stuff that happens on a daily basis when top trainers of international repute use designer drugs to elevate the form of horses that win 7-figure purses and are subsequently sold for millions of dollars as breeding animals. This is where the real crimes are taking place and have been for the last few of decades.

    • 4Bellwether666

      You aren’t even close as the real crime here is the FIXING of a Horse race where Gamblers are being CHEATED out of their money…Period…u just don’t get it do u???…And u never will chump…

      • harry

        It is a federal crime due to the interstate wagering. The feds just need to come in and take enforcement over because the states have clearly proven they are not serious about cleaning it up. Our sport is making professional wrestling look good.

        • Peyton

          And pit bull fighting and mandingo matches.

        • Peyton

          It is also a federal crime to smoke marijuana but the feds have chosen not to prosecute it at the state level. And probably rightly so in regards to both racing and smoking.

          • 4Bellwether666

            Smoking pot less dangerous than alcohol (and other drugs) but can’t go with Horse racing…Smoking pot is not a crime possession of it is…The Fed has been undercover on the backside for many moons and still are…I say they will break out the whip on their ***** in the near future…David Wells had to give them a ton of info to save his ***…Book That!!!…

      • When guys are using designer drugs, they are cheating with stuff infinitely more powerful and superior than ace. What Avila did was very bad, but it is penny ante compared with what some guys have been using at the very top level of racing. Gamblers are being cheated and screwed out of their money much more often by the top guys than the Avila’s of this game. I have been writing about this stuff since the 1970s and I have an actual name. Please present your credentials for review. Mine are a matter of public record. We are fighting the same fight, but you seem more concerned about what is happening on a lower level. You are concerned with blue-collar street crime, whereas I am more concerned with what takes place at the white-collar level, because high profile trainers and horses can kill the game, whereas Avila’s crimes mostly serve to aggravate certain horseplayers.

        • Ian Howard

          Puling off a betting coup on racing’s biggest day with such a dramatic reversal in form, and such a low mutuel is hardly penny ante. Throw in the positive and the ridiculous penalty and what you have is a perfect illustration of the inability of racing to govern itself.
          This business cannot effectively compete against other forms of gaming until it understands it’s customers, consolidates and eliminates racing for which there is no commercial appeal, cleans up the chemical warfare that is destroying our horse population and turning off once and future supporters. The fractured nature of our industry leaves me filled with pessimism that any meaningful measures will be taken.

        • Beach

          I get your point but you should remember that these antics are serious, game-killing problems whether one is investigating the plebes or the patricians. I also feel so sorry for Masochistic and other horses who are victims of this. I’ve always admitted up front that I have “issues” with speed and enjoy racing–but I am most a fan when the animals are actually CARED FOR while they earn a living for themselves, trainers, and players; and when they are not treated as disposable trash when this particular career is over. Yet there are also many, like me, who don’t want much of anything to do with these sports when they conduct themselves as havens for animal abuse. Something else for all here to consider…

        • mr.moneyinthebank

          true talk

        • Theyre off

          You are both right.

        • 4Bellwether666

          It’s just ‘Common Sense’ without ‘The Gambler’s’ (low/high roller$) there is NO Horse racing as we know it today all over this planet…It’s the Claiming (Iron Horses) Horses along with ‘The Gambler’s (low rollers) that are the backbone of ‘The Game’ and make up the cards/pay the bill$ from coast to coast day in and day out…Your name is just another brick in the wall and the only thing that really sticks out about you is your big head…

    • hype22redux

      Barry they have had to resort to the days of yore as you say it because a lot of the drug avenues have been detoured temporarily so they go back to the things they use to use……look at this SA meet 3-5 winning and the 3 longest shorts on the board running behind them,also you can always tell when something is up when the jockeys in a particular race read like the list of WHO?and it not the quality of horse it just they don’t want to be anywhere near the race…period

      • Peyton

        One of the tricks of the days of yore which could be going on at the FG is the prohibitive favorite finishing second to payoff big exactas. It seems to be happening quite often. No proof just observation.

        • togahombre

          it’s might be both of yours imagination, no proof just an observation

        • Bill O’Gorman

          But if this were happening surely the payoffs would be obviously lower than might have been expected?

    • Ian Howard

      While i think Bellweather is unnecessarily insulting he is correct.
      Racing can survive horsemen cheating each other, what it cannot survive is the continued erosion of our customer base. Before other forms of gambling became legal and easily accessible this type of larceny was part of the experience. Now we face competition from heavily regulated, and ubiquitous products. One stat I recall stated that since 2003 racing has lost twenty per cent of it’s business globally. Having experienced the mayhem caused by the provincial government’s decision to cancel SARP and the vulnerability of our industry I don’t think it is unreasonable to state that within a decade there will no longer be the need or demand for more than six or seven tracks.
      Gamblers don’t care if the one per cent are screwing each other but as they have continued to show they will happily transfer their business elsewhere if they feel they are getting a raw deal. If this industry doesn’t care to do the right thing because of moral imperatives it should at least clean up it’s own act in how we treat our animals and our customers before no one cares.

      • Bill O’Gorman

        It’s a miracle if it only lost 20% – look at the alternatives nowadays.

      • 4Bellwether666

        “Unnecessarily insulting” is what ‘The King’ said about George Washington/Thomas Jefferson/Patrick Henry/John Adams/Ben Franklin and their “Gang of Anarchist”…Barry Irwin needs to quit jumping on people like a cheap suit and get off that ‘High Horse’ (he went to stud) of his…Also someone needs to tell him he’s had his 15 mins…ty…

    • Gaye Goodwin

      What the sport needs is zero tolerance. Avila should be booted out of the game, period. And that would certainly help with the topic you brought up – the “winning” stallions who produce mediocre off spring because the reality was that THEY were not spectacular without drugs.

    • Pat SayJack

      Its not the designer drugs, its the designer suits!

  • Fast Filly

    40 times the legal limit…??? I didn’t know it was even legal, so if it is, what is the LEGAL limit? It is a tranquilizer…did anyone talk to a vet and ask them what 40 times the legal limit would do to a horse? I am not saying the horse didn’t have it in him and that was wrong, but couldn’t the test be wrong? if three mg is a dose to use on a horse to get him to calm down so he could be shod or whatever, 40 times would be 120 mg and I would think the horse wouldn’t be able to stand, let alone run..when a horse is given a sedative, if a male, it is quite easly shown…I would also question the lab as the amount…40 times would be three bottles…everyone wants to jump on the trainer and I am not saying he didn’t do it, but really…

    • SteveG

      Forty times over the threshold, not 40 times the dose!

      • Fast Filly

        Okey, I did misunderstand, but I didn’t think ace was even allowed at all..so what is the threshold in Ca.?

        • SteveG

          25ng/ml. in a urine test. Avila had 973ng/ml. Please don’t make apologies for this miscreant.

          • Fast Filly

            I don’t apoligise for him..just wanted to know about the test..I thought that ace was a nono at any level..I just went to the RMTC, Racing Medication and testing Consortium and in the state of California there are no testing for withdrawal times for ace…I was questioning the testing procedure…I have saw overages of lasix in terriblely high amounts and no one questions the amounts…that’s all I was questioning..if a trainer didn’t want his horse to preform up to par, he wouldn’t have to use a drug that would show up in a race. sorry..just don’t like quantive levels in testing..if the drug shows up, it’s a bad test, shouldn’t matter how much..

          • SteveG

            I got the impression you were taking his back when you stated, in your original post…something like, “everyone wants to jump on the trainer…” as though there was a chance he was innocent. This stinks on too many levels for that to be possible. The testing levels that several (notably the robotic & infamous poster, Lynn) complain about are secondary (as problems go) to the fundamental issue of a standard of care that routinely over-medicates healthy horses. Get the meds. out, except in sick or injured horses, and the threshold argument evaporates overnight.

          • Mimi Hunter

            I fear that horse racing will have to go through the same convulsions that other sports have had to endure to get the illegal drugs out of the picture [and even then there will be new drugs in use to give someone the ‘edge] – ‘special training secrets that often include medications have been around literally forever, and will probably always be a problem.

      • Gaye Goodwin

        OMG – Avila pulls off a TOTAL scam and there are STILL people who cannot see the forrest for the trees? Unreal!

        • SteveG

          Your ire is understandable but I hope you’re not directing your outrage at me for being some kind of apologist. I’m not. In fact, aside from the clear abuse of the med. & resulting disregard for the horse’s well-being which is bad enough, I’d like to see the fellow go in the clink for the betting end of this.

          • Gaye Goodwin

            Not you, dear; the person(Fast Filly) questioning the medicine violation. Right? The point being, it wasn’t just the violation, but the maiden race at CD, which defrauded the public. It is patently obvious that Avila is a scammer.

  • hadrianmarcus

    So he defrauds a thousand people who bet the race and gets a 60 day suspension after a year. If he drove away from the gas pump without paying, he’d be in handcuffs. Says a lot about the culture within horse racing itself. Other than personally transporting people to casinos, I wonder what else the Horse Racing Industry could do to drive customers to other (and apparently) more honest methods of gambling.

    • 4Bellwether666

      It’s a damn shame isn’t it???…

  • Anthony C.

    Is this wrong that AC Avila pulled this off? Yes. Was the a handicapping / gambling angle here to profit off of? Most definitely . The focus on the funny business in the horses first race was out there but no suspension was handed down.. Then AC was able to ship in on Kentucky Derby Day for a huge purse maiden race it was a opportunity for gamblers to make big money as this is how the game has become . To make money a gambler must adapt . Sad but true . Santa Anita long time trainer , those who know the circuit know AC and his ways. Hate that horses pay the price

    • 4Bellwether666

      Horses & The Gamblers!!!…If there ever was a case for the FBI/DEA this is one of them…

    • Bill O’Gorman

      I think the ACP was the problem! If he was confident enough to do it with a first time starter – no problem.

  • hype22redux

    so what would you look at in yesterdays last race at SA the 27th…..the winner 0 for 12 pretty consistent at the level the loser obviously placed at a winning level ran his eyes out only to get beat by a very average horse,now lets see what changed oh the jockey the one handed jockey who on miracle rides never uses his left hand sort of reminiscent to chop chop ,not making any accusations but if you look at all this jockeys super rides the same thing is displayed …in my 50 years in racing I have always looked for the consistencies of the inconsistencies….. ted west I called it for over 2 years before the rash of positives,when something is is inconsistent to the norm then something is amiss

  • Gaye Goodwin

    Where is the Federal indictment for defrauding the betting public across two states?

  • daltemose

    referencing the shrinking fan base. in 1964 Aqueduct, on all live racing days, attendance wise they outdrew the new york yankees by half again as much. That’s 3 years after maris hit 61 home runs look it up

  • Mousse

    Hey Ray…..How about the 5th at SA on Sat! The horse is off since Sept and just whistles in a nice $60K (plus Cal Bred $) alw opt clg race. Boy that guy can train!!! Now he can pay the $10k and take 2 months off while his staff runs the shed!!!! What a game!!

  • Dan E

    Did you see Avila’s quote after Masochistic’s win today? (In Bloodhorse) He’s laughing about it- saying he’s going to “ask DOUG O’NEILL for some nice vacation brochures”. He thinks you’re a joke CHRB. Making a mockery of this sport, laughing at it’s rules and anyone who plays by them.

  • 4Bellwether666

    80% of Gambler’s are not happy…Seems the Breeders could care less just like NTRA/TJC and a TON of others…

  • Hamish

    After reading all the posts here, it seems time that keen horse industry and wagering analysts get to the bottom of where race fixing originates. Is it local from within a racetrack’s horsemen’s community, statewide in states where regulators are weak and rules unenforced, are there national crime syndicates determining where the next race’s outcome is known before it is run, or has race fixing become so big at the offshore level that it is driven internationally? Once we understand who is pulling the strings and making arrangements to manipulate pari-mutuel wagering events, we’ll have a better indication if these issues can ever be managed.

  • Dee R. Eff

    I went back to take a look at Masochistic’s first race. Berrio was riding high on the horse and never moved his hands once from the quarter pole home. It did not go unnoticed by the stewards who “investigated” Berrio’s ride for lack of effort. From what I saw, it is the definition of lack of effort. They also tested the horse and was found positive with a huge overage which falls way outside the bounds of a mistake. In old school parlance, some would say a classic stiff job.
    Then he shows up at Churchill on Derby day where large purses could conceal large wagers. The public was unaware of the Berrio investigation and the drug positive. Half a million was bet on track, and 3.2 million came in from other sources. A total of 3.7 million wagered on an undercard maiden race. He won off by 14, and went off the favorite at 2-1 but would have been much lower if on any other day and if the public knew the prior facts.
    Shortly after the race, Kentucky racing commissioner, Bonnie, asked for an investigation. Never heard anything about the follow up on that, but almost a year later, a 60 day suspension and a 10k fine for the positive. Maybe one of his buddies will step up and pay that fine for him.

  • kiki

    This guy is certainly a race fixer cheater!! Should be thrown out of the game. And..in response to Barry Irwin only being concerned with the “white collar trainers and horses” in this game I would say that statement is what is wrong with horse racing today. This game is not all about the big name trainers and big name horses.

    • 4Bellwether666

      Thank U…Thank U…Thank U!!!…

      • kiki

        you are welcome. Getting tired of this kind of mentality in horse racing.

  • Robert Funaro

    you as a handicapper I’m afraid must be careful about the race you pick to play. Perhaps stakes races are the only alternative. For an honest run by all; given the purse and attention taken to play fair.

  • Gaye Goodwin

    Somebody shut him up and told him what time of day it is – he sold his interest in the horse and will not appeal the suspension. That is one way to sweep it under the rug.

  • Flag Is Up

    Can you get any more arrogant than this quote?:

    Trainer A.C. Avila does not plan to appeal his 60-day suspension and $10,000 fine recently handed out by the California Horse Racing Board. “I haven’t had a vacation since 2008, so I’ll make the most of it,” said Avila, who plans to leave March 24 to spend two weeks in South America, including Brazil and Uruguay, and 25 days in Europe, including France and Italy

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