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New research investigating the prevalence of performance enhancing drugs in community sport across Europe is looking for Scottish input to a 10-minute survey.

While anti-doping bodies and researchers have scrutinised the use of doping in elite sport for the last 20 years, there are still many open questions on this topic in recreational sports, mass sports and leisure sports. The use of performance and image enhancing drugs in gyms and fitness has been investigated to some extent, but very little is known about the larger population playing sports and competing on lower levels.

The research, commissioned by the EU and including eight countries, will be used to inform educational programmes and UK Anti-Doping (UKAD). Experienced researchers from Saarland University (Germany), Sapienza University (Italy) and Aarhus University (Denmark) developed the survey and are responsible for its content and dissemination, and the academic partner in the UK is Paul Dimeo of the University of Stirling.

Paul told us: “The basic aim is to determine, as reliably as possible, the proportion of recreational athletes who use medications (legal or illegal) in connection with their sports activities and training. We survey recreational athletes across Europe and in as many different sports as possible.

“We know that the use of drugs in sports is a sensitive issue. Therefore, we guarantee full anonymity of every respondent. The chosen method – the Randomized Response Technique (RRT) – warrant this by allowing participants to answer honestly without compromising themselves. Safeguarding anonymity goes so far that even in the unlikely event of someone intercepting the data while transmitted on the Internet; they would not be able to conclude anything about the individual respondent’s behavior. Thus, the RRT provides the strongest possible protection of the respondents’ anonymity and safety.”

You will find a link to the survey here. From the website, you will also find further information on the survey and the protection of data.