The key findings and recommendations of the Fitness Against Doping (FAD) project were presented in Copenhagen on Tuesday 28th February.
In the presence of Jacob Kornbeck from the EU Commission the European Health and Fitness Association and the 10 partner countries from across Europe summarised the key findings and facts from the research that had been undertaken. The project was grant-aided by the Commission in response to its position that “doping remains an important threat to sport and that the use of doping substances by amateur athletes poses serious public health hazards and calls for preventive action, including in fitness centres”.
The project has provided a much better understanding and statistically significant findings of the use of performance and image enhancing substances at fitness centres and it is now possible to develop evidence-based effective intervention strategies. The original and far-reaching FAD research has shown that only a very small minority of users at 1.23% take banned substances such as anabolic steroids and only 1.85% use societal-based drugs such as amphetamines, cocaine or ecstasy. The prevalence of the use of performance or image enhancing substances or recreational drugs by fitness users is characteristically below national drug use levels. The survey collected evidence from customers, exercise professionals and club managers.
The sector actively promotes the benefits of regular healthy exercise and health-enhancing physical activity but there has been rising concern that some unfounded and generalised comments are being made that doping practices are apparently “prevalent” or a “significant problem” in fitness. As the core service and objective of the health and fitness sector is to improve the health and wellbeing of its users the unsubstantiated perception of a doping culture within the sector was therefore inconsistent with this goal.
The outcomes give direction to build the credibility for the sector with policy makers and authorities all over the EU, and it will clearly signal to the industry that EHFA is working to mature and professionalize the sector. It will make sure that EHFA continues to set an agenda within this important area at the EU level, and it will provide our EHFA/EREPS professionals with essential, evidence based, scientifically credible knowledge about anti-doping that they need in order to counter doping in their professional pursuits in fitness centres across Europe. The findings are now being used to form recommendations to the Commission for further cooperative work to reduce levels of doping through establishing networks and in specific behavioural change programmes.
The Fitness Sector has agreed to a Charter on Anti-Doping:
The European Fitness Sector Anti-Doping Charter
The European health and fitness sector is committed to improving the health of European citizens and as such it is fundamentally opposed to the use of doping and other performance-enhancing substances that harm health.
EHFA and its members commit to do their utmost to eradicate doping practices and will cooperate with the EU Commission, doping agencies, authorities and governments in studying and implementing the most effective policies, campaigns and measures to combat doping.
The sector commits to educate and inform its employees and customers, and to provide information and guidance for operators to have in place effective anti-doping measures.
The FAD Executive Summary of findings and recommendations and its Position Statement can be downloaded at http://www.ehfa-programmes.eu/en/fitness-against-doping.html