An important factor while developing efficient doping prevention strategies is to identify relevant target groups, to evaluate the state of knowledge about this topic as well as to evaluate motivations behind using prohibited substances. Measures to prevent doping substances abuse have to be supported in early stages of childhood.
The aim of this prospective study was to evaluate the knowledge of Tyrolean junior athletes about doping in sport. Next to the knowledge, their attitudes in regard to doping practices have also been a focus of this project.
Within a prospective cross-sectional study, Tyrolean junior athletes aged between 14 and 19 years (n = 408) were anonymously questioned by distributing questionnaires in three Tyrolean sport schools as well as two Tyrolean sport-training centers. To collect the data, an anonymous questionnaire with close-ended questions was used. Next to sociodemographic data, questions also evaluated the knowledge about prohibited substances as well as attitudes and behaviors towards doping. The concept was set up based on contents of comparable studies and publications.
The knowledge about doping among junior athletes was moderate. The consumer behavior of the young athletes on the other hand has turned out to be satisfactory. Nevertheless, the overall knowledge especially regarding potential negative side effects of doping agents is poor.
To incorporate an effective doping-prevention strategy, improved education, particularly in terms of side effects, is clearly needed. To achieve sustainable doping-prevention effects, focus has to be generally set on education within the frame of junior competitive sport.