Doping knowledge, attitudes, and practices of Ugandan athletes': A cross-sectional study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background. Despite the development of advanced drug testing systems, both deliberate and inadvertent doping in sports is increasing in elite, amateur and school sports. As a result, alternative approaches that seek to influence an athlete’s attitudes are needed to address the growing doping concerns that threaten both the health and well being of the athlete as well as the legitimacy of the sport. Therefore, the current study set out to establish the doping attitudes, knowledge and practices of professional Ugandan athletes, gathering information that may guide the design of more efficient doping prevention programs. Methods. This was a cross-sectional study of 384 professional Ugandan athletes from four contact team sports (basketball, football, handball and rugby) and two individual sports (athletics and cycling). An Interviewer administered questionnaire used contained; questions about the doping behavior, the performance enhancement attitude scale (PEAS), and doping use belief (DUB) statements. Results. Approximately 60 % of the athletes reported familiarity with information on doping and that most of this information came from fellow colleagues (41.9 %), individual or team coaches (29.7 %) or the media (15.6 %). However, nearly 80 % of these athletes could not correctly define doping. The overall mean PEAS score, a measure of doping attitudes, for all study participants was 39.8 ± 14.8. Female athletes (PEAS: 41.1 ± 15.1), athletes with a prior doping history (PEAS: 44.1 ± 15.6) and athletes from the sport of athletics (PEAS: 56.6 ± 17.4) had higher mean PEAS scores than their respective counterparts. Regarding doping behaviors/practices, 9.3 % of the study participants had been offered a doping agent at some point, although only 3.9 % of the athletes acknowledged recent use. Conclusions. The confessed use of doping agents in this study was low, which may suggest that fewer athletes use doping agents in Uganda. However, there is still an urgent need for educational anti-doping programs to address the knowledge gaps observed amongst athletes in this study. Modifying the existing Physical education curriculum for inclusion of more content about doping in sport could provide the basis for doping prevention programs amongst amateur athletes in Ugandan primary and secondary schools.