Epidemiologic approach of doping in sport. A review

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1997 Sep;37(3):218-24.


Objective: To determine, the prevalence of doping in sport as it was reported by the athletes during surveys, and to try to isolate risk factors to resort to doping.

Experimental design: Medline, Pascal and Embase search for the period from 1980 to 1996.

Study selection: Of the 44 studies produced, 15 were not included in the detailed data summary because they reported statistical data from antidoping controls, they were not enough specific, or they concerned horse races.

Data extraction: Details of study design, drugs studied, prevalence. When available, were also noted: the sport practiced and the motives for doping.

Results: Among children, doping prevalence in around 3-5%. Among adults, in self-reported use studies, doping prevalence may be estimated at 5-15%, where projected use studies report a mean prevalence near 15-25%. Studies provide few data about the sports that produce drug users.

Conclusions: The extent of sport doping and its potential risks for health must make it to be considered as a problem of public health. This means that physicians must, at last, consider it as any other problem and change their behaviour against doping, in order not to reduce the subject to the sole list of prohibited substances. As for sports federations, they must, as last, recognize that prevalence of doping is high. Lastly, new studies are essential to determine motives for doping and to institute the predictable factors for this practice, what will perhaps make efficient the prevention campaigns.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Child
  • Doping in Sports / prevention & control
  • Doping in Sports / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Health Education
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / classification
  • Physicians
  • Prevalence
  • Public Health
  • Research Design
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Problems
  • Sports / statistics & numerical data


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations