ANTI-DOPING POLICIES AIM AT THE WRONG POPULATION OF USERS
Cohen, J., Collins, R., Darkes, J., & Gwartney, D. (2007). A league of their own: Demographics, motivations and patterns of use of 1,955 male adult non-medical anabolic steroid users in the United States. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 4, 12.
"Rule violations among elite-level sports competitors and tragedies among adolescents have largely defined the issue of non-medical anabolic-androgenic steroid (NMAAS) use for the public and policy makers. However, the predominant and oft-ignored segment of the NMAAS community that exists in the general population is neither participating in competitive sports nor adolescent. A clearer profile of NMAAS users within the general population is an initial step in developing a full understanding of NMAAS use and devising appropriate policy and interventions. This survey sought to provide a more comprehensive profile of NMAAS users by accessing a large sample of user respondents from across the United States."
US-based male NMAAS users (N = 1955) were recruited from Internet websites dedicated to resistance training activities and ergogenic substance use, through mass emails, and through the print media to participate in a 291-item web-based survey. The Internet provided a large and geographically diverse sample with the greatest degree of participant anonymity.
The majority of respondents did not initiate anabolic-androgenic steroid use during adolescence and their non-medical anabolic-androgenic steroid use was not motivated by athletics. The typical user was a Caucasian, highly-educated, gainfully employed professional, approximately 30 years of age, earning an above-average income, and was not active in organized sports. Use was motivated to achieve increases in skeletal muscle mass, strength, and physical attractiveness. These findings question commonly held views of the typical NMAAS user and the associated underlying motivations.
Implication. The focus on "cheating" athletes and at risk youth has led to ineffective policies because it does not relate to the predominant group of NMAAS users. Effective policy, prevention or intervention should address validated target population(s) and the reasons for use while utilizing the desire for responsible use and education.
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