Objective: to describe the prevalence of doping and its evolution among a cohort of preadolescent athletes during a four-year follow-up.
Design: prospective cohort study.
Setting: self-questionnaire survey. Participants: all of the pupils entering the first year of secondary school (sixth grade) in the Vosges department (east France) and followed for four years.
Main outcome measurements: drug use (prohibited substances, tobacco, alcohol, cannabis), intention to use, reported health hazards, perceived drug efficiency, self-esteem, trait anxiety.
Results: at the begining 1.2 % [95 % CI: 0.8-1.6] stated that they had taken doping agents at least once in the previous 6 months, and this percentage raised up to 3.0 % [2.3-3.7] four years later (p < 0.001). Of those who had used doping-drugs: 4 % reported that they had a health problem related to doping and 44 % that they won at least one sport event because of the substance. Doping drug use is linked to sex, number of hours of practice per week, intention to use, other drugs use, self-esteem and trait anxiety.
Conclusions: our results show that doping does exist among “daily preadolescent athletes”. This fact should to be taken into account in prevention actions.
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