Objective: To examine the use of food supplements and pharmaceutical preparations by elite Paralympic athletes.
Design: Survey study.
Setting: Athens 2004 Paralympic Games.
Participants: Data obtained from two sources: (i) athletes’ declaration of intake of drugs/supplements recorded on the Doping Control Official Record during sample collection for doping control; (ii) athletes’ application forms for granting of a therapeutic use exemption.
Main outcome measures: Classification of declared food supplements according to the active ingredient and medications according to therapeutic actions and active compounds.
Results: 64.2% of the athletes tested for doping control declared use of medications or food supplements, and 81.3% of these athletes declared intake of fewer than four preparations. Non-invasive routes of administration dominated. Food supplements (42.1%) were popular, and drugs used to treat several pathological conditions noted. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents and analgesics were commonly used (9.8% and 5.6%, respectively). The prevalence of inhaled β2-agonist use (4.8%) was higher than expected and exceeded that at the Athens Olympic Games.
Conclusions: This review, the first to examine elite Paralympic athletes, shows a more rational approach to the use of medication and food supplements, but a similar consumption pattern to that of athletes at the Athens Olympic Games. Because of the dearth of such studies, consumption trends among Paralympic athletes remain unclear. The need to counsel athletes with disabilities on their nutritional needs is confirmed, and close monitoring by healthcare professionals is recommended.
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