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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2016 May 03

Anti-doping attitudes among elite athletes: a cross sectional study in biathlon using a suitably developed questionnaire

Nicola LAMBERTI 1, Anna M. MALAGONI 2, 3, Michele FELISATTI 4, Stefano CARACCIOLO 5, Nicole RESCH 3, Hannu LITMANEN 3, Donatella DALFOLLO 3, Pierre JEANNIER 3, Larisa ZHUKOVSKAJA 3, James E. CARRABRE 3, Fabio MANFREDINI 1,3

1 Department of Biomedical and Specialty Surgical Sciences, Section of Sport Sciences, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy; 2 Unit of Translational Surgery, Hospital University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy; 3 International Biathlon Union, Salzburg, Austria; 4 Esercizio Vita ONLUS, Ferrara, Italy; 5 Department of Biomedical and Specialty Surgical Sciences, Section of Neurological, Psychiatric and Psychological Sciences, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy


BACKGROUND: The attitude of athletes towards anti-doping interventions was surveyed among biathletes by a properly developed questionnaire.
METHODS: Topics and items were identified by a multidisciplinary team. A Demographics and an Awareness sections exploring respondents’ characteristics and knowledge of the anti- doping rules were added. The anonymous, self-administered tool was distributed to athletes during two international events. Two hundred forty-four biathletes participated in the survey. The structure of the questionnaire, determined by factor analysis, included three domains: Safety (items n=12) Acceptance (n=11), and Satisfaction (n=13) exploring respectively the perceived protection from cheating, the acceptance of the limitations on daily activities imposed by the anti-doping interventions and the satisfaction with anti-doping rules and actions. The domain scores and a general anti-doping attitude score were calculated.
RESULTS: The questionnaire, which displayed construct validity (r=0.500, p<0.001), good internal consistency (α=0.82) and significant acceptable test-retest reliability (k=0.59), revealed a good anti-doping attitude (general score: 64.9/100±8.8) and in relation to each domain a satisfaction of athletes with anti-doping interventions (65.3±13.6), good acceptance of the related restrictions (70.1±10.9), and concerns about safety (59.5±11.9), which was the lowest scoring domain (p<0.001). The degree of awareness, differently from age and gender, influenced the anti-doping attitude score.
CONCLUSIONS: The new questionnaire revealed a positive mood of biathletes towards anti-doping interventions, pointed out their necessity of protection from cheating and highlighted the positive influence of awareness of the rules on anti-doping attitude. The questionnaire is not sport-specific, which allows any international federation to evaluate the impact of anti-doping strategies on athletes.

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