Author(s): Waddington I, Malcolm D, Roderick M, Naik R
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Abstract OBJECTIVES: To examine several issues related to drug use in English professional football. More particularly the project sought to gather data on: players' use of permitted supplements (mineral and vitamin pills and creatine); whether they sought advice, and if so from whom, about their use of supplements; their experience of and attitudes towards drug testing; their views on the extent of the use of banned performance enhancing and recreational drugs in football; and their personal knowledge of players who used such drugs. METHODS: With the cooperation of the Professional Footballers Association (PFA), reply paid postal questionnaires were delivered to the home addresses of all 2863 members of the PFA. A total of 706 questionnaires were returned, a response rate of just under 25\%. RESULTS: Many players use supplements, although almost one in five players does so without seeking qualified professional advice from anyone within the club. Blood tests are rarely used to monitor the health of players. One third of players had not been tested for drugs within the preceding two years, and 60\% felt that they were unlikely to be tested in the next year. The use of performance enhancing drugs appears to be rare, although recreational drugs are commonly used by professional footballers: 6\% of respondents indicated that they personally knew players who used performance enhancing drugs, and 45\% of players knew players who used recreational drugs. CONCLUSIONS: There is a need to ensure that footballers are given appropriate advice about the use of supplements in order to minimise the risk of using supplements that may be contaminated with banned substances. Footballers are tested for drugs less often than many other elite athletes. This needs to be addressed. The relatively high level of recreational drug use is not reflected in the number of positive tests. This suggests that many players who use recreational drugs avoid detection. It also raises doubts about the ability of the drug testing programme to detect the use of performance enhancing drugs.
This article was published in Br J Sports Med
and referenced in Journal of Sports Medicine & Doping Studies