Objective: To analyse enquiries made in the Drug Information Database (DID) to develop a better understanding of athletes’ interests and concerns regarding the prohibited status of available substances.
Setting: Retrospective analyses of anonymous enquiries recorded in the DID in 2006 and 2007.
Participants: Athletes and supporting personnel.
Results: The DID recorded 223 717 enquiries with 200 of the >6000 UK licensed pharmaceutical products receiving over 100 enquiries each. The majority (79.2%) of these enquiries were in the pharmaceutical product category, followed by recreational drugs (10.4%). A variety of common medications were subject to enquiry, with anti-inflammatory agents, decongestants and bronchodilators being most common; a trend in keeping with reported medication use by athletes. Of all enquiries, 42% were not found owing to misspelled words or enquiries about unregulated substances. The proportion of enquiries about substances not listed in the database is relatively high and has increased over the 24 month observation period.
Conclusion: The DID is a well-used information resource with some 10 000 enquiries being made each month. Of the c. 60% of successful enquiries, the major focus was on pharmaceutical products. With some 73% of enquiries being made by the athletes themselves, further investigations are warranted to explore enquiry patterns in relation to specific sports. Of the unsuccessful enquiries, a large number were related to nutritional supplements, which warrants further investigation. The DID database appears to be a valid mirror of athletes’ chemically assisted practices and may be successfully used to inform health professionals as well as antidoping prevention programmes.
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