Chandigarh, January 23
A study by military specialists revealed low awareness of anti-doping rules as well as the use of banned substances and their side effects among Indian elite athletes and proposed several measures to control the use unwarranted use of drugs and performance enhancers by athletes.
“A low proportion of athletes reported doping and being tested for doping. Reported use of banned substances is also low among athletes. Several athletes report being unaware of commonly used drugs and supplements containing banned substances,” the study says.
Conducted by seven specialists from the Armed Forces Medical College, the Army Sports Institute and different military hospitals, the study, “Survey of Anti-Doping Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices among Elite Indian Sportsmen and the way forward,” was published in the January 2022 issue of Indian Armed Forces Medical Journal.
“The way forward to prevent future anti-doping rule violations among Indian athletes is education at the grassroots level, raising awareness among elite athletes, regulating the availability of supplements, availability of trained athlete support and accessible reference material,” the study authors recommend. .
Additionally, athletes should be motivated to focus on training, natural nutrition first, and proper recovery rather than resorting to unethical means to enhance their performance.
The study was undertaken at a sports institute and a questionnaire was administered anonymously to 181 male athletes between the ages of 18 and 35 to assess their attitude towards performance-enhancing substances and anti-doping rules.
“Athletes’ awareness of anti-doping agencies and anti-doping rule violations was low,” the authors report. The study found that 40% or less said they had received anti-doping updates.
The study, however, suggests that drug addiction is not as widespread as feared and that the number of positive anti-doping rule violations may be reduced.
“Less than seven percent of respondents admitted to using banned performance-enhancing substances and admitted to knowing about the use of similar substances among their teammates at national camps. Nine athletes were using tablets, powders or injections, and knowledge about this use was obtained from the internet, team members or friends,” the study states.
Prohibited substances were obtained from local pharmacies.
Athletes who attended anti-doping sessions showed significantly higher levels of knowledge and a significantly higher percentage of 80% said they consulted their team doctor before using any therapeutic drugs compared to non-participants, observes the study. Health was more important than athletic performance by 80% or more.
According to the study, one area requiring regulatory action is the proper labeling and use of certified doping-free supplements.
“Doping-free certification by independent bodies should be made mandatory for supplements or nutraceuticals regularly consumed by athletes and these should be prescribed by team physicians or sports physicians only to prevent cases of accidental consumption. “, recommend the authors.