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Clin J Sport Med. 2010 May;20(3):189-92. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e3181df5f87.

Elite athletes' perceptions of the effects of illicit drug use on athletic performance.

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  • 1National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052, Australia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the perceived risks and benefits that elite athletes associate with illicit drugs and their beliefs concerning the effects of recreational drug use on athletic performance.

DESIGN:

Self-administered survey.

PARTICIPANTS:

Nine hundred seventy-four elite athletes (mean age, 23 years; range, 18-30 years) were recruited from 8 national sporting organizations in Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport.

INTERVENTIONS:

Participants completed a self-administered survey that included questions exploring participants' perceptions regarding the effects of illicit drug use on physical performance.

SETTING:

National sporting organization meetings or competitions.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

The main outcome measure was risk perception on athletic performance associated with illicit drug use.

RESULTS:

The majority of athletes believed that illicit drug use would impact negatively on athletic performance. The main perceived effects of illicit drugs on athletic performance were physical and mental functioning. A minority of athletes indicated that drug use would not impact on physical performance when taken during the off-season or in moderation.

CONCLUSIONS:

The main risks perceived in association with illicit drug use were short-term consequences, such as physical and mental functioning, rather than long-term health consequences. The current findings may contribute to the development of harm reduction strategies that communicate drug-related consequences to elite athletes in an appropriate and effective manner.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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