Despite the efforts of the World Anti-Doping Agency and national anti-doping agencies at the international level, a relatively low and steady rate of positive doping tests still persists all over the world. Evidence on adolescents using doping substances exists, and the proportion of adolescents engaging in doping practices is small but significant. In relation to the international research trends on anti-doping, this study aims to evaluate doping knowledge, practices, and attitudes among Korean adult and adolescent elite athletes to provide effective information on anti-doping policies and education programs.
This study was a cross-sectional study of 454 Korean elite athletes (249 adults in 23 events and 205 adolescents in 22 events). Data were collected by an interviewer-administered questionnaire containing items regarding doping practices and knowledge, brief definitions of performance-enhancing substances/methods and recreational substances, and the Performance Enhancement Attitude Scale (PEAS).
Adolescent (47.3%) and adult (57.0%) athletes received information on banned substances of their respective sports from the Korea Anti-Doping Agency, and 39.0 and 53.4% of adolescents and adults, respectively, had knowledge of banned substances and had permissive attitudes toward doping compared to those who were unaware. Adolescent and adult athletes have inadvertently (1.5 and 3.6%, respectively) or knowingly (1.0 and 2.8%, respectively) taken banned performance-enhancing substances, and 2.4 and 3.2%, respectively, knew someone who had taken banned substances. And the adolescent athletes in motor skill category (PEAS: 40.24 ± 10.91) were more permissive toward doping than those in team category (PEAS: 35.08 ± 10.21).
An in-depth anti-doping education for Korean athletes should be more widely implemented, and effective anti-doping policy should meet the athletes’ demographic characteristics, personalities, and values.