Objective: to highlight drug application in male top-level football players prior and during international tournaments.
Design: prospective survey.
Participants: 1472 professional football players qualified for FIFA World CupTM 2002 and 2006.
Methods: in a prospective survey, each team physician was asked to report the use of all medicaments and supplements 72h prior to each match.
Results: A total of 10384 substances were reported (1.8 substances / player / match), wherefrom 4450 (42.9%) were accounting for medicaments and 5934 (57.1%) for nutritional supplements. The medication prescribed most frequently was non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (n=2092; 20.1%); more than half of the players took it at least once during a tournament and more than 10% of the players were using NSAIDs prior to every match (156 out of 1472). Beta-2-Agonists were reported for 1.4% (20 players) and inhaled corticoids for 1.6% (23 players) of all participating players. Injected corticoids were reported for 73 players.
Conclusions: high intake of NSAIDs reported in international football is an alarming fact which has to be approached. Due to their side effects, long term treatment is only to be advised for a few indications. More restrictive recommendations for sport need to be developed.
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