As the eight World Cup teams in Groups E and F take the field Wednesday in Brazil, some things are not in much doubt. Argentina has clinched advancement in Group F. France has not technically clinched advancement in Group E, but its goal differential is so strong that it has advanced for all intents and purposes.Switzerland and Ecuador have a lot on the line, however. So does Nigeria, which is favored to advance but could fail to do so if it loses to Argentina and Iran beats Bosnia and Herzegovina. There’s even a possibility that FIFA could have to draw lots to determine whether Nigeria or Iran moves on. Let’s focus on Nigeria’s Group F first, which will kick off its final games Wednesday at noon Eastern time:Most scenarios in Group F are simple. Argentina will advance in first place if it beats or draws Nigeria, or as the second-place team behind Nigeria if it loses to it.Nigeria is an 88 percent favorite to advance in some capacity, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast. The only way it could fail to do so is the case I mentioned: if it loses to Argentina while Iran beats Bosnia. That scenario could get messy.Say that Iran beats Bosnia 2-1 while Nigeria loses to Argentina by the same 2-1 scoreline. Both teams will have one win, one draw and one loss. Both will have two goals scored and two goals allowed. FIFA’s next tiebreaker is head-to-head results, but Nigeria and Iran drew their match. That means FIFA would be out of tiebreakers and forced to draw lots to determine who advances.Mind you, this situation is unlikely. Iran is probably a weaker team than Bosnia and has only a 21 percent chance of beating the World Cup newcomer. Also, anything but the same scoreline in the two Group F matches would give FIFA some other way to resolve the tie. For example, if Iran won 2-0 and Nigeria lost 1-0, Iran would have the better goal differential and would advance. If Iran won 1-0 and Nigeria lost 2-1, the teams would be tied on goal differential but Nigeria would advance on the basis of goals scored. The chance that FIFA will have to draw lots is only 0.6 percent, according to our match predictor.An even bigger longshot than that scenario is if France failed to advance from Group E. Let’s look at the situation there:The FiveThirtyEight forecast lists each team’s advancement probability to the first decimal point and describes France’s chances at 100.0 percent; if we added a decimal place, they’d be 99.98 percent instead. The only way this extraordinarily unlikely scenario could come into play is as follows: France loses to Ecuador. Switzerland beats Honduras. Then France, Switzerland and Ecuador are tied atop Group E with six points each.This scenario is not all that unlikely: There’s a 10 percent chance that both Switzerland and Ecuador will win their matches. But France would also have to finish last among the three teams in the goal-differential tiebreaker. There’s almost no chance that will happen; France’s goal differential is +6 so far, while Ecuador’s is even and Switzerland’s is -2.But Switzerland and Ecuador’s advancement prospects are more complicated. Switzerland is guaranteed to advance if:It beats Honduras and Ecuador draws or loses.It draws Honduras and Ecuador loses.Ecuador is guaranteed to advance if:It beats France and Switzerland draws or loses.It draws France and Switzerland loses.Both matches in Group E are draws.Other cases, like the one where Ecuador and Switzerland both win, will go down to a tiebreaker.There’s even an outside chance (about 2 percent) for a three-way tie, in which Honduras could advance. That would require both Honduras and France to win — in which case Honduras, Ecuador and Switzerland would be tied for second with three points each. Honduras would then need to win on the tiebreaker. That would probably require them to beat Switzerland by at least two goals while Ecuador takes a multi-goal loss to France.CORRECTION (June 25, 9:39 a.m.): An earlier version of this post incorrectly described the scenario of Iran beating Bosnia 2-1 and Nigeria losing to Argentina by the same 2-1 scoreline.
Despite beating Syracuse 38-20 Saturday, the (formerly) No. 1 ranked Florida State Seminoles found themselves ranked second in the latest AP Poll, trailing Mississippi State after the Bulldogs beat previous No. 2 Auburn 38-23 at home in Starkville. It was the first time Florida State had not occupied the AP’s top slot since Nov. 24 of last season.Although Mississippi State’s victory over Auburn was impressive, the way the polls typically work is that No. 1 stays No. 1 as long as No. 1 keeps winning (or soundly beats an underdog opponent). Florida State was favored by 23 against Syracuse and won by 18 in a game that was essentially over midway through the third quarter. The Seminoles are also the defending national champions, and so far this season they’ve outscored opponents by more than 18 points per game (a number that becomes nearly 21 if we throw out their six-point win over Clemson in which they were missing 2013 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston). If Florida State is presumed to be the nation’s best team — as it was before the season — it’s hard to find a obvious misstep that proves otherwise. (If anything, a good Bayesian should probably be more suspicious of Mississippi State, which was unranked as recently as five weeks ago.)Then again, the Seminoles have also played just one team (Clemson) ranked among the AP’s Top 25 at the time of the game, and their overall strength of schedule ranks 64th in the FBS, according to Sports-Reference.com’s Simple Rating System. While my Elo variant still has them ranked first, it draws heavily from knowledge of how good they were last season. Computer-rating systems that don’t account for Florida State’s presumed strength as a prior, by contrast, tend to rank it among the country’s best teams — but generally not as No. 1. (That honor is more often bestowed upon either Mississippi State or Ole Miss, who very nearly bumped Florida State to No. 3 in the AP voting.) Combined with potential distaste over the sexual assault allegation against Winston, AP voters had several reasons to drop the Seminoles from their perch atop the rankings, despite the team’s 22-game winning streak and championship incumbency.How frequently do No. 1 ranked teams fall in the AP Poll despite winning their most recent game? According to Sports-Reference’s college football data, there have been 21 cases (since 1992) of the AP’s top team beating an FBS opponent but dropping in the next poll (ratings and expected margins shown below are based on the Elo rating variant I described in an earlier post):Compare the incumbents’ performances to those of the overtaking teams that claimed No. 1 in the subsequent AP poll:There are a few circumstances that can lead to No. 1 winning a game but losing its ranking, usually involving some combination of the incumbent disappointing and/or the upstart exceeding expectations. Florida State’s tumble was more an example of the latter than the former — the Seminoles underwhelmed by a bit, but the bigger factor was Mississippi State’s strong performance against Auburn.Most of the cases above involve a similar chain of events, although a few saw the incumbent disappoint by so great a margin that No. 2 slid up just by playing to expectations. On other occasions, the challenger moved up without even playing; in 1992, No. 2 Washington watched on the sidelines as No. 1 Miami struggled to an 8-7 win over unranked Arizona, then claimed the AP’s top spot three days later. (The Hurricanes and Huskies would flip-flop the No. 1 slot twice more — each time in spite of incumbent wins — before the season was over.) And sometimes the pollsters swapped teams at the top for relatively arbitrary reasons, such as when Penn State crushed No. 21 Ohio State 63-14 — yet dropped behind Nebraska, who’d beaten previous No. 2 Colorado 24-7. (Despite going undefeated the rest of the season, the Nittany Lions would never again stake their claim to No. 1 over Nebraska from that point on, and were unable to face the Huskers in the postseason because of the Rose Bowl’s conference tie-ins.)The good news for Florida State is that it still has the highest probabilities of winning out and winning its conference among the major-conference undefeateds, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index simulations. Barring the real possibility of a change to Winston’s availability — on top of the sexual assault allegations, news broke Monday night that Florida State was investigating whether the quarterback signed autographs for money — the numbers show the Seminoles as very likely to earn a berth into the inaugural College Football Playoff field, regardless of Sunday’s ranking loss.
The 1996 Dream Team might be the best basketball team ever put together, but Team USA in the London Olympics achieved something no other team has ever done.With the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony leading the way, the Americans set Olympic records in a 156-73 explosion against Nigeria.It was a phenomenal shooting display, to say the least. How phenomenal? Let us count the ways:The U.S. scored a record 78 points by halftime. 100 points was on the board with still five minutes remaining in the third quarter.Anthony eclipsed the Team USA single-game scoring record with 37 points in less than three quarters. He made 10 of 12 three-pointers.The 26 made 3s were an Olympic record.The Americans set a established a new record for field goals with 59The 71 per cent shooting percentage was a record.The 83-point margin of victory was a new“Our guys just couldn’t miss,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said.The U.S. stopped running fast breaks after halftime in an attempt to not embarrass its opponent. Didn’t matter.“When we get hot, it’s a big problem,” Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers said. “So you have all these guys on one team and then all get hot on the same night, it’s tough.”Bryant had 14 of his 16 points in the first quarter. Russel Westbrook had 21 points, Kevin Love, 15 and Kevin Durant 14.“It’s a great accomplishment to get that record,” said Anthony, who broke Stephon Marbury’s scoring mark of 31 against Spain in 2004. “We did it in a very highly classy way. We went out there and we played basketball. We made shots. We make shots like that and play the way we played tonight, that record could have come on any team.”
By finishing second (to Jason Day) in the PGA Championship on Sunday, Jordan Spieth completed a remarkable run at golf’s major championships this season. He won two major tournaments (the Masters and the U.S. Open), placed second in another (the PGA), and — in his worst showing — tied for fourth at the British Open. It was the third time since 19581The year golf’s majors entered their modern era, as the PGA Championship adopted a stroke-play format. that a player finished no worse than fourth in any major during a season.Last week, my colleague Andrew Mooney used a metric called z-scores (which measure how many standard deviations a player’s score was from the mean2For all players who made the cut in a given tournament.) to examine where Spieth’s overall PGA Tour season — including both majors and the tour’s more pedestrian tournaments — ranked among other golfers’ seasons since 1970. Going into the PGA, he was on pace for the 12th-best single season in that span, and he was the top-ranked player not named Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus. (Pretty heady company!)But we can also use z-scores to measure where his cumulative performance at the majors this year ranks. The — admittedly predictable — result is that Spieth’s 2015 majors campaign stands as one of the greatest in the sport’s history.Here’s how it works: In a given tournament, a player’s performance can be converted into the probability that he would win the average major with his z-score. For example, Spieth’s -2.20 z-score at the PGA last weekend would be good enough to win about 40 percent of all majors staged since 1958. Therefore, he gets 0.40 shares of a major for the performance, even though he didn’t actually win.Of course, this methodology can add up to more than 100 percent of a victory for majors featuring multiple great performances. The famous “Duel in the Sun” between Nicklaus and Tom Watson at the 1977 British Open was so epic, for instance, that the system above awards 2.1 total “generic majors” to the field. To correct for this, we can also compute an adjusted version that isn’t allowed to assign more than 1.0 combined shares of a major to any given tournament’s field, no matter how dominant — or dubious — the performances of its leaders. (According to this adjustment, Spieth’s 2015 PGA Championship earns him just 0.18 share of a major, since the field total also needs to clear room for the performances of Day, Branden Grace and others.)Depending on which version you use, Spieth’s 2015 season either ranks fourth overall since 1958 (without the adjustment), or 11th (with the adjustment).My preference probably lies with the unadjusted version, simply because a player can’t control whether he shares the stage with another dominant performance (and z-scores already account for his score relative to the field average). But no matter the method, it’s clear once again that Spieth’s 2015 season deserves a place among golf’s most brilliant achievements.
5Rangers0-0.9Kings0-0.9 9Orioles0-0.6Knicks0-0.5 MLBTitlesVs. Exp.NBATitlesVs. Exp. 4Chargers0-0.9Flames0-1.0 3Mariners0-1.2Jazz0-1.5 There are few fans as tortured by their team’s constant inability to win a championship as those who support the St. Louis Blues. It’s not because the Blues are perpetually lousy — in their 51 seasons, they’ve failed to qualify for the playoffs on only nine occasions. But they’ve never won a Stanley Cup, and they haven’t advanced to a Stanley Cup Final since doing so three consecutive times from 1967-68 to 1969-70.1These were the franchise’s first three seasons, and they arguably advanced to the final only because they were the least awful team in the newly formed West Division, which included only expansion teams. They were swept in all three of those finals and were outscored 43-17.Those early failures didn’t derail the Blues — they qualified for the playoffs in six of their following nine seasons before embarking on a streak of 25 consecutive playoff berths from 1979-80 to 2003-04. That streak is tied for the third-longest in NHL history. But while the three other clubs to match or exceed St. Louis’s streak went to the Stanley Cup Final at least three times during their runs, the Blues teams advanced beyond the second round on only two occasions. Those Blues were like a weird second cousin: always showing up to the party but never having much to say.But all that might change this season. The Blues are currently locked in a 2-2 tie with the Dallas Stars with a spot in the Western Conference finals on the line. St. Louis might be setting its fans up for yet another postseason disappointment in what has been a long line of them — but this could also be the year that the bounces finally go in the team’s favor, for once.The six seasons immediately following the end of St. Louis’s long playoff streak were lean for the Blues: They qualified for the playoffs just once, in 2008-09, and were promptly swept in the first round by the Vancouver Canucks. But aside from 2017-18, the Blues have used the past eight seasons to reestablish themselves as perennial playoff participants. Just like the teams in the streak years, the Blues of the 2010s haven’t advanced to the Stanley Cup Final. The Blues usually stay on brand: They are almost always pretty good, but they are seldom ever great.That’s especially been the case since the dawn of the 1990s, back when St. Louis featured a string of stars including Brett Hull, Grant Fuhr, Adam Oates, Al MacInnis and (eventually) Chris Pronger to form potent contenders in the West — on paper, at least. Since the 1989-90 season, no NHL team has underperformed in the postseason more than the Blues in terms of actual versus expected championships. Based on a logistic regression using Hockey-Reference.com’s Simple Rating System (SRS) scores2Which estimate the strength of every team in the NHL by measuring a team’s average goal differential after adjusting for strength of schedule. from each regular season, we would have expected the Blues to have won 1.4 Stanley Cups over that span; instead, they won zero. According to this measure of postseason disappointment, the next-closest NHL team since 1990 is the Ottawa Senators, who won zero Cups despite an expectation of 1.2 titles.Compared with the other three major sports leagues, the plight of St. Louis Blues fans is only exceeded by those of fans who support the Oklahoma City Thunder (nee Seattle SuperSonics), Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz. It’s a motley crew of losers that residents of the Gateway City would rather not be associated with. St. Louis is among pro sports’ most disappointing teamsBiggest shortfalls between actual and expected* championships by sport, 1990-2018 7Tigers0-0.7Clippers0-0.6 8Falcons0-0.6Predators0-0.6 4Braves1-1.0Trail Blazers0-1.4 249ers1-1.2Senators0-1.2 * Expected championships is based on a logit regression between a team’s regular season Simple Rating System (SRS) score and whether it won a championship.Source: Sports-Reference.com 10Dolphins0-0.5Wild0-0.5 Compounding their failures is the fact that the Blues have the fifth-best goal differential in the NHL over that same span3The four teams ahead of the Blues — the Red Wings, Bruins, Devils and Penguins — have combined to win 13 Stanley Cups since 1990. and have been third-best team in terms of SRS. Always pretty good, never great.Their destiny as also-rans aside, the Blues are hardly the only historic disappointments still competing for the Stanley Cup this season. If we look back as far as the 1969-70 season, the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks each rank in the bottom third of the NHL in terms of actual titles versus expected titles. Indeed, the Sharks — like the Blues — are still titleless. Wouldn’t that make for a devastating Western Conference finals, in which one of those unfortunate franchises — and fan bases — had to go home empty-handed?Hope isn’t lost for the Blues just yet. Despite being deadlocked with the Stars, they’ve got home ice advantage on their side. What’s not on their side is the current form of rookie goaltending sensation Jordan Binnington. The netminder stormed onto the scene in the middle of the season, posting audacious numbers en route to collecting 24 wins in just 30 starts. But Binnington seems to have hit a rookie wall at just the wrong time: His quality starts percentage in the playoffs is 60 percent, down significantly from the 67 percent mark he posted during the regular season.If the Blues are going to put an end to a half-century of misery, they’ll need their wunderkind between the pipes to rediscover the form that earned him the starting job in the first place. After all, it’s hard to win a Stanley Cup without a hot goalie. Otherwise, the good folks of St. Louis know how this movie will end, because they’ve seen it many, many times before. 6Titans/Oilers0-0.8Canucks0-1.0 6Dodgers0-0.9Magic0-0.8 8(Devil) Rays0-0.7Pacers0-0.5 NFLTitlesVs. Exp.NHLTitlesVs. Exp. 5Raiders0-0.8Flyers0-1.0 9Jets0-0.5Maple Leafs0-0.6 2Athletics0-1.7Suns0-1.6 7Bills0-0.6Sabres0-0.8 1Chiefs0-1.3Blues0-1.4 10Nationals/Expos0-0.6Hawks0-0.4 3Vikings0-1.0Sharks0-1.0 1Indians0-1.8Thunder/Sonics0-2.3
“My job is to help out the pitchers as much as I can,” Espino said. “That’s my job on this team and that’s what I’m going to do as a backup catcher. Defense has to be my top priority and after that, I want to have good at-bats, put the ball in play and hope for the best result.”In Sunday’s loss against the Toledo Mud Hens, Espino had one hit in three at-bats, with an RBI single. He provided stability from behind the plate as he caught nine innings from Hector Rondon, Steven Wright and Frank Herrmann. Espino threw out Casper Wells in the fourth inning on the only attempted steal of the day by the Mud Hens.Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh commented on Espino’s value to the club.“He really works well with the pitching staff, and he’s had some big hits for us early in this year,” Sarbaugh said. “He’s a hard worker and a great guy to have in the clubhouse.” The catcher position is the most grueling position in baseball. Spending nine innings every game crouched in a catcher’s stance, wearing knee, shin and chest protectors, a protective helmet and a face mask in the heat and humidity of the summer can wear a player down.Occasionally, the Columbus Clippers need to give their starting catcher and top prospect Carlos Santana a day of rest. Backup Damaso Espino has shown to be a valuable asset to the Clippers in these situations.On April 21, Santana was injured when he fouled a ball off of his right knee. While the injury was not considered serious, he was taken out of the game and listed as day-to-day.Espino has provided stability at the catcher position when Santana is out of the lineup.Espino has played in eight games for the Clippers this season and has a .227 batting average. Despite his struggles at the plate, his defensive abilities have been impressive.
Redshirt freshman wrestler Kollin Moore gets his hand raised after defeating Penn State’s Matt McCutcheon at 197 pounds on Feb. 3, 2017 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Nicholas McWilliams | Former Sports EditorThree Ohio State wrestlers — heavyweight Kyle Snyder, 187-pound Kollin Moore at 187 pounds and 125-pound Nathan Tomasello — were listed in No. 1 spots in FloWrestling’s preseason NCAA wrestling rankings on Monday.Buckeye wrestlers are represented in the top-12 of every weight class. FloWrestling also ranked Ohio State second in the NCAA in its preseason rankings. Coach Tom Ryan’s group ranks behind Penn State, which won the NCAA team championship the past two seasons.The Buckeyes, coming off a runner-up finish at the NCAA team championships last season, has three other team members listed in the top five in their respective weight classes. Junior Myles Martin is ranked second in the 184-pound class. Redshirt senior Bo Jordan is ranked third at 174 pounds while his brother, redshirt junior Micah Jordan, is listed fourth at 157 pounds. Sophomore Luke Pletcher (133 pounds) and redshirt sophomore Ke-Shawn Hayes (149 pounds) are both ranked ninth in their respective weight classes. Two new additions to the Buckeyes are also ranked. Joey McKenna, who transferred from Stanford, is ranked sixth at 141 pounds and Te’Shan Campbell, who transferred away from Pittsburgh, is ranked 12th at 165 pounds. Seven Penn State wrestlers are ranked, including five who are ranked No. 1 and two others ranked fourth and fifth. The Buckeyes will face off with the Nittany Lions on Feb. 2 or 4 in University Park, Pennsylvania. Michigan, which FloWrestling ranks third in team rankings behind the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes, will showcase eight ranked wrestlers in its lineup during the upcoming season with six being ranked in the top six. Ohio State will travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan for a dual meet with the Wolverines on Feb. 11. The Buckeyes kick off the 2017-2018 campaign on Nov. 4 when they compete in the Princeton Open in Princeton, New Jersey.
He stressed both sides of the “controversial issue” needed debate and said there are “plenty of ways” to make workers stand out without “dressing people up” in striped uniforms.His comments come amid mounting questions over the prison population in England and Wales.This month thousands of prison officers staged a walkout after claiming the system was “in meltdown”.Around 85,000 people are currently behind bars and campaigners have repeatedly warned about overcrowding and rising levels of violence and self-harm.Speaking on Tuesday Lord Thomas said: “If you are sending someone to prison for a very short time, the ability of the prison to cope with that person is limited in the current circumstances. Prison officers staged an unofficial strike earlier this month to protest against health and safety issuesCredit:DYLAN MARTINEZ The Lord Chief Justice said more time must be spent looking at community penalties “What is absolutely essential is that you have, for magistrates in particular but also for judges, really good alternatives to prison.”He added: “There are two issues: how do you balance rehabilitation and punishment and what should the punishment be. Should you have some really tough kind of work for them to do? Should you make the punishment visible? These are issues that need to be debated.”Lord Thomas also said more work needed to be done in ensuring community sentences were not viewed as a soft option for those who have broken the law.He said: “We need to look much more carefully at how we give the public confidence, and the judiciary and particularly the magistracy.“Many defendants often say, ‘Phew, I’ve got off,’ and that is a terrible, terrible indictment of the system. Earlier this month Michael Gove said criminals should not be sent to prison unless there is no alternative.But director of Voice for Victims and former probation union official, Harry Fletcher, said “toughening up” community penalties was not simple.He said: “There have been calls to harden up community service and make it more visible for the last ten years. It has proved highly impractical to do it.“First, there is a shortage of placements and second there is a risk of abuse from the public to offenders and if the offenders are highly visible there’s a tendency for them not to show up, which defeats the point of it.“Community service must not be a vehicle to replace work down by local authority councils because it would put people out of work. It’s easy for the Lord Chief Justice to call for tougher community service but how do you do that? Make offenders break up rocks? Or do hard physical labour?“The reality is most of them are addicted to drugs or alcohol or both, and many have mental or physical health issues so therefore are incapable of doing hard, physical work.”Community sentences range from unpaid work to treatment programs and group activities.Offenders doing tasks such as removing graffiti, clearing wasteland and decorating public places are required to wear a high-visibility orange vest under the current regime.In 2008 Labour controversially introduced vests with the words “Community Payback” written on the back for criminals on community service. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Community service is not tough enough and needs to be a more visible punishment, Britain’s most senior judge has suggested as he says offenders view non-jail sentences as “getting off” free.The Lord Chief Justice called for harsher community penalties as an alternative to imprisonment at a time when jails are “overstretched” and unable to cope with overcrowding.Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd said making offenders more “visible” while they are carrying out work could deter offenders from seeing community service as an easy way out. In 2008 Labour controversially introduced vests with the words “Community Payback” written on the backCredit:EDDIE MULHOLLAND
By contrast, the new device can detect tiny amounts of moisture on the outside of the body and uses wireless technology to send a signal to a computer which give the medic a “red, amber, green” result indicating how likely a premature birth is.The test, which could be ready to roll out across the NHS within three years, can accurately predict premature birth from as early as 20 weeks gestation.Professor Dilly Anumba, who is leading the research at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital, said: “If we are able to identify women at real risk, then we can target them for treatments way before pre-term birth occurs to reduce the risks of either the baby dying or the extremely premature baby surviving with cerebral palsy or other problems associated with prematurity.” Around 60,000 babies are born early each year in the UK, and complications from pre-term delivery are the leading single cause of deaths in children aged under five, while one in four babies born before 28 weeks suffer life-long complications.Once doctors know that a mother-to-be is at risk of giving birth prematurely, they can use the hormone progesterone or antibiotics to delay delivery.The knowledge can also give women a better chance of being near the hospitals best equipped to look after premature newborns.Professor Anumba said there was no reason why the test could not be used to screen all mothers during their mid-term checkup at 20 weeks.“If we can prolong pregnancy by two, three or four weeks we could make a big difference in terms of how well the babies are and how relatively healthy they are without some of these disabilities associated with pre-term delivery.”He added: “There is every suggestion it will be cost saving for the NHS if it’s as good as we think it could be.”The research has been funded in part by the National Institute for Health Research, the NHS research arm, and has included 200 women who have previously had pre-term births.Because of its small size and simplicity, the technology promises an even bigger impact in the developing world, where many women do not even have access to the current diagnostic techniques.Pre-term babies can have under-developed lungs, are at higher risk of infection due to a less effective immune system and can suffer bowel problems. They also tend to feed less well. Professor Dilly Anumba If we can prolong pregnancy by two, three or four weeks we could make a big difference in terms of how well the babies are and how relatively healthy they are without some of these disabilities associated with pre-term deliveryProfessor Anumba A new test promises to revolutionise the prevention of premature birth by accurately predicting the chances of pre-term delivery up to three months in advance, scientists have said.The “pencil-looking” non-invasive device will save the NHS £1 billion a year and can alert doctors to tell-tale accumulations of moisture in the cervix, giving them the chance to intervene and artificially prolong pregnancy.The new test, which has been trialled at an NHS hospital in Sheffield, takes a maximum of 15 seconds and is so simple it could be used by GPs or even nursing staff.Gynecologists currently have to rely on time-consuming and expensive procedures such as ultrasounds or fetal fibronectin swabs, which yield many false positives and, even when accurate, can only predict premature birth a few days hence. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
The spokesperson said: “Although we repeatedly asked Asda to give us a more detailed breakdown of the ingredients used so that we could make an accurate assessment, they would not supply those details. “[So] we were unable to confirm whether or not the meals would be designated as Free Food on Slimming World’s healthy eating plan.”It’s always been our view that Asda were misusing our trademarks to promote the range, trading on the back of our much-loved and respected name and reputation, regardless of whether the meals count as Free Food on our healthy eating plan.”The spokesperson added: “It’s never been our intention to prevent Asda from selling healthy meals that help people lose weight – our concern has been about our trademarks, and we hope that Asda will be able to relaunch the range without relying on Slimming World’s trademarks or name.A chicken tikka masala, a cottage pie and a Thai green curry were just some of the meals pulled from the shelves on Sunday morning.An Asda spokesperson said the meal packs included a statement informing customers that the range was not endorsed by Slimming World.The spokesperson added: “We take great pride in the integrity of the claims we make about our products. “Recent information has come to light indicating that the method used by Slimming World to assess whether a ready-meal is free or not, surprisingly, is partly subjective and involves more than simply making food with free ingredients.“Slimzone was always intended to bring more choice and lower prices to customers shopping for healthy frozen ready meals but because of this new information, we have chosen to remove the range while we consider the best option for our customers.” Supermarket giant Asda has pulled a range of diet ready meals from its shelves after facing legal action from Slimming World.The supermarket chain launched their own-brand Slimzone meals in January, stating on packaging the meals were “free to enjoy following the Slimming World Extra Easy plan”.But Slimming World sought an injunction over the use of their trademark on the 12 meals, claiming the company had not supplied enough information on ingredients used.At £2.50 each, the meals were 50p cheaper than Slimming World’s own brand meals in Iceland.The weight loss company had not endorsed or tested the product and it is understood Asda did not communicate with Slimming World before the range was brought to the shelves.Slimming World, which boasts of over one million members, uses values called Syns to help its members lose weight.Asda said Slimzone ready meals included ingredients which were classed as “Syn free” in the Slimming World diet plan. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. But the weight loss giant claimed they could not given an accurate value for the Slimzone meals, because the supermarket had not provided enough details on their ingredients.In February Slimming World announced they had taken legal action against the supermarket to remove their trademarks from the range.They claimed the supermarket was “trading on the back” of Slimming World’s reputation and using their name “unlawfully”.On Sunday Asda announced they had pulled all twelve meals from their 600 stores.A Slimming World spokesperson said the products were withdrawn shortly before a court hearing was due to take place.