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Medicina dello Sport 2005 December;58(4):265-72


language: Italian

Doping and supplements: awareness and knowledge by the Italian general practitioners

Rosano A. 1, Carletti M. 2, Donini L. M. 3, Ricci P. 1

1 Istituto Italiano di Medicina Sociale, Roma; 2 Federazione Medico Sportiva di Varese, Varese; 3 Istituto di Scienza dell’Alimentazione, Università La Sapienza, Roma


Aim. Substances abuse among non-competitive athletes is the most worrying aspect of doping, even though less sensational. General practitioners (GP) have a constant contact with the population and may play an important role in the prevention of doping. Objective of the study is to assess general practitioner knowledge of doping in sport, what kind of attitude they exhibit with respect to doping use and their availability to participate in campaigns against doping.
Methods. A postal questionnaire was sent to a sample of 1,000 general practitioners in Italy. The questionnaire had four sections: demographic data, knowledge and awareness of doping, confront with doping in their practice, willingness of participating in campaigns.
Results. The response rate was 26.9%. Of the respondents, 62.5% considered the possibility of positive doping test for prescribed drugs. Some 9.2% had directly encountered a request for prescription of doping agents and about 25% had been consulted about doping substances. Only 27.6% were able to correctly single out banned substance from a proposed list. Males among GPs showed better knowledge of doping. Knowledge about supplements is good: 85.4% is sufficiently prepared and only 5.0% mixed doping and supplements up. Most of GPs are aware that athletes take supplement to improve their performance. However, supplements are the most frequently prescribed substances to adults who practice sport. Most (70.5%) said that GPs may play a role in doping prevention, but only half of them considered themselves well prepared to participate in its prevention.
Conclusions. GPs knowledge of which substances are prohibited in sports is poor. They are quite aware of the doping widespread, but only a minority considers himself prepared. The position about supplements is controversial: it is known that the assumption is not aimed at integrating alimentary deficiency or metabolic dysfunctions, however GPs do not hesitate to prescribe supplements. GPs may play an important role in doping prevention. Tackling drug abuse in sport requires also education of doctors, at academic level and in continuous education programs.

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