Study reveals limitations of drug testing policy
The study, carried out by sports scientists in the University's Carnegie Research Institute, investigated athletes' attitudes, beliefs and willingness to participate in performance enhancement in sport and found that more emphasis needs to be placed on doping prevention and education which focuses on changing athletes' doping-related perceptions.
Speaking about the study's results, lead researcher Lisa Whitaker said: "Prevention education is most effective if it is targeted and this study has allowed us to generate an evidence base to inform future anti-doping programmes. The findings suggest that anti-doping programmes need to target athletes' doping-related perceptions, including their feelings towards other athletes' doping behaviour, and their expectations of the outcomes of using banned substances."
The research also revealed that athletes would be most willing to use a banned substance if they were to suffer a dip in performance and their funding was under threat or if they were to suffer an injury before a major competition. The athletes also indicated that they would be more likely to use banned substances if they thought others were using and getting away with it, although they felt themselves that they would receive little approval from their significant others if they were to use banned substances.
The study, which gathered over 700 anonymous responses from athletes from a range of sports, found that male athletes perceived themselves to be more similar to athletes who use banned substances when compared to female athletes. It also suggested that athletes' perceptions of those who use banned substances must be targeted through prevention programmes that instil negative attitudes towards doping.
The role of coaching in doping abuse was also investigated, with the study indicating that coaches are highly influential on athletes' behaviour and must be prioritised in terms of banned substance education.
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