Evaluation of prevalence of "doping" among Italian athletes

Lancet. 1990 Oct 27;336(8722):1048-50. doi: 10.1016/0140-6736(90)92502-9.


To evaluate knowledge of, attitudes to, and use of illegal drugs and other forms of "doping" in sport 1015 Italian athletes and 216 coaches, doctors, and managers (technicians) were interviewed after selection on a quota basis. Overall, 30% of athletes, managers, and coaches and 21% of doctors indicated that athletic performance can be enhanced by drugs or other doping practices. Over 10% of athletes indicated a frequent use of amphetamines or anabolic steroids at national or international level, fewer athletes mentioning blood doping (7%) and beta-blockers (2%) or other classes of drugs. These proportions were 2-3 times higher for occasional use than for frequent use. Estimates by managers and coaches were much the same as those of athletes when allowance was made for larger random variation. 62% of athletes who acknowledged doping reported pressure to do so from coaches and managers. According to over 70% of athletes access to illegal substances was not difficult. Both athletes and technicians awarded higher scores to risk than to efficacy for any substance, although 42-67% of athletes and technicians regarded amphetamines and anabolic steroids as efficacious. 82% wanted stricter controls not only during competitions but also during training.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / administration & dosage
  • Adult
  • Amphetamines / administration & dosage*
  • Anabolic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Attitude*
  • Blood Transfusion, Autologous
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Doping in Sports / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Doping in Sports / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Research Design
  • Risk Factors
  • Sampling Studies


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Amphetamines
  • Anabolic Agents