Background and Objective Anti-Doping Authority Netherlands, the official NADO of the Netherlands, evaluates periodically the knowledge, opinions, and attitudes of Dutch elite athletes on various anti-doping matters.
Design and participants A total of 888 elite athletes, as acknowledged by National Olympic Committee NOC*NSF, were asked to fill out an anonymous, internet based, 83-item questionnaire. In addition, 453 professional football players (who have no traditional ties with the NOC) were selected from the database of the VVCS, the national representative organisation for professional soccer players. The study was conducted with the cooperation of NL Sporter, the independent association for elite athletes.
Results A representative response of 38% for Olympic athletes was achieved; among soccer players the response was indicative at 21%.
The whereabouts-rule is the most controversial anti-doping rule for all athletes: 61% has experience with filing whereabouts data, but less than 20% finds it necessary to file such data in their own sport. One in three athletes regularly experiences problems with fulfilling their whereabouts requirements, undermining the support of this rule. Testing itself is less controversial: more than half of all athletes support the principle of Out-of-Competition testing. Of all athletes, 91% would feel guilty if they would use doping themselves. Athletes' knowledge about the Prohibited List and about doping regulations is good (7.1 to 8.8 on a scale of 0 tot 10). Athletes would favour better international harmonisation, more educational opportunities and more anti-doping training for their support personnel.
Conclusions Technical improvements in whereabouts software are still necessary, and different ways should be explored to alleviate the burdens laid upon elite athletes without compromising the effectiveness of an out-of-competition testing programme. The knowledge on doping issues should be maintained, but more personal ways to accommodate for specific individual questions during educational meetings should be considered. Educational efforts for Football players should be strengthened.