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More drug education needed to curb junior doping

More drug education needed to curb junior doping
July 10, 2014

Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) is calling for greater investment in drug education programs in light of new research evealing Australian children as young as 12 are using performance enhancing drugs during sport.

The study, undertaken by researchers at University of Canberra and Griffith University, found about 4% of junior elite athletes admitted using performance enhancing drugs, with researchers describing doping and supplement use as ‘prevalent’ among young athletes.

SMA Chief Executive Nello Marino said these findings highlight the need for more funding and support for drug education programs in sports clubs to ensure young athletes have the right information to be able to make the right choices in regards to drugs and supplements and proper nutrition.

Marino explained “what we want to see is a greater focus on education so that our young athletes are equipped with sufficient information to be able to make informed choices about what they are ingesting, what the effects and potential risks of the substances or supplements are, and where they can go to seek advice.

“One of the most concerning findings is the widespread perception among young athletes that drugs in sport are commonplace, with reports suggesting junior athletes believe about a third of all elite athletes use banned drugs to gain a competitive advantage.

“With many unknown and suspect supplements now so readily available online, it is critical kids are equipped with the right information before they jump online and waste their money on suspect supplements in an attempt to gain an ‘easy’ competitive edge.”

Marino said one of the biggest barriers to delivering education at a club level is that many clubs simply don’t know where to start.

He concluded “this is where sports medicine professionals can help by bridging the knowledge gap and encouraging collaboration between club officials, parents and athletes.

“We want to see a greater investment in drug education programs to help club officials, parents, and club medical staff work together to provide the right guidance and support for young athletes, particularly in grass roots sport.”

“If a young person is taking supplements or performance enhancing drugs we want them to be able to connect with the right person about what they might be taking and why.

“Young athletes should only be taking supplements in consultation with a suitable sports medicine professional or sports dietitian.”

SMA has a number of resources available to help guide clubs including state based education programs on the dangers of performance enhancing drugs.

For more information visit or, in Western Australia -, or in Victoria -


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