Perceived incidence of drug use in Australian sport: a survey of public opinion

Stephen Moston, James Skinner, Terry Engelberg

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)


    In the last few years, a large number of cases have come to light in which celebrated individuals, and even whole teams, have been found to have used either banned performance enhancing or ‘recreational’ drugs. There are two very different perspectives on this issue. On the one hand, some see the use of banned drugs as a threat to sport, whereas on the other hand, the use of performance enhancing drugs is actually lauded as a way of energizing flagging public interest in sport. This study is the first survey of Australian popular opinion on the incidence and seriousness of drug use in sport. Data were collected via telephone interviews featuring a nationally representative sample of 2520 participants. Results showed that the public believe that a quarter of athletes use banned performance-enhancing drugs, and a third use banned recreational drugs. The sport most commonly identified as one where performance-enhancing drug use is common was athletics (Australian Football League for recreational drugs). The public were strongly opposed to all forms of drug use in sport, yet opinion was divided as to whether anti-doping investigations should be handled by the police. Results are discussed in light of the efforts of anti-doping agencies to enforce rules and procedures that the public may not fully comprehend.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)64-77
    Number of pages14
    JournalSport in Society
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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