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Performance Enhancing Drugs and the Student Athletes


Many physicians, parents and coaches worry about the effect of performance enhancing drugs in schools and colleges (Amy, n.d.). The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) reports that in every thirty student-athletes, one will use performance-enhancing drugs like steroids (“Coalition addresses abuse of performance-enhancing drugs,” 2004). Research should find out the underlying factors compelling athlete students to use the drugs illegally.

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Present literature on performance-enhancing drugs and student athletes has distinct gender patterns. Male athletes appear to have a higher risk of drug use compared to their non-athlete peers (Yusko et al., 2008). Various researches on use of performance-enhancing drugs by student athletes face the limitation of obtaining accurate information. Usually, information sought in surveys is highly sensitive. These studies often fail to qualify the data received as most student athletes associate their participation with negative consequences on their sporting career (Yusko et al., 2008).

Problem Statement

Few scholars have looked into the existence of racial and ethnical performance enhancing drug use differences among student athletes (Yusko et al., 2008). Additional sample groups need to form part of future studies, to remove biases associated with self-reporting of coaches and student athletes in surveys. The reliance on coaches, and other school or college staffs, to identify and avail their players for surveys, limits the specificity of the given investigation. In addition, student athletes receive special facilities from their institutions because of their role. For example, they are more likely to use campus housing, and spend more time in campus, than their non-athlete counterparts. Therefore, there is the challenge of obtaining a sampling balance (Fernandez & Hosey, 2009).

Studies on effective student prevention strategies on drug use propose the use of brief interventions and personalized feedback to produce positive results on different samples. However, these studies have no record of empirically testing student athlete trials. In addition, many studies do not differentiate between in and off-season use of performance enhancing drugs (Larance et al., 2008).

Aims and Objective of the Study

This study will look into the risk factors associated with performance-enhancing drug use between student athletes and their non-athlete peers. The factors under examination will include motivation for use, family history and peer normative perceptions. The exploration will involve findings from literature review of prevalence rates, usage patterns and consequences of drug use by student athletes. It will involve the amalgamation of views and opinions of clinicians, school administration, student athletes and non-athlete students.


This inquiry will develop hypotheses regarding the broad factors influencing the uptake of performance-enhancing drugs among student athletes.

  • H1

Students take up performance enhancing drugs to enhance performance as a masking effect of their social economic conditions.

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  • H2

Association of non-athlete students with athletes, who abuse performance-enhancing drugs, influences their seasonal use.

  • H3

Race, as a social economic factor, affects the uptake of performance-enhancing drugs among student athletes.

Literature Review

The most common type of performance enhancing drugs are anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) injected to the body (Larance, et al., 2008). Additional forms include growth hormones and insulin. Some users of AAS consume them orally. ASS comes in several trade names and is combined with various fluids like juices, when taken orally. Many athletes and non-athletes combine them with nutritional supplements. Possession of AAS is illegal unless the victim has a doctor’s prescription. Stigmatization of the use of illegal drugs informs most abusers’ choice of secrecy (Yusko et al., 2008). Moreover, most users will see, doctors as unaware of the substances, and their use among the athletes.

Public health initiatives risk overlooking drug users who attempt to masquerade the causes of their injury. Performance-enhancing drug components are part of diuretics, which are banned in any major kind of sport (Cadwallader et al., 2010). On the other hand, diuretics are common prescription for hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, some athletes use them for legitimate medical reasons. Often, illegal uses outnumber legal prescriptions of diuretics (Cadwallader et al., 2010).

Fernandez and Hosey (2009) show that twenty five percent of body builders and nonathletes in 2004, reported to start the use of steroids while still teenagers. The study further indicated that the prevalence rates for performance-enhancing drugs among high school students were at 2.3 percent for boys and 0.6 for girls. Dealing with the problem of performance-enhancing drugs requires information about their different forms and names. Furthermore, users have varied reasons for their indulgence, and express separate views, on the knowledge of effects associated with the drugs (Fernandez & Hosey, 2009).



The researcher will recruit male and female students from three universities. The inclusion criteria will influence the composition of the study sample. All participating students will be between the ages of 18 and 25. Athlete samples will comprise of at least 100 students form each university. No less than 30 percent of the study sample will consist of a single gender. The survey would also include at any rate 10 percent of both athletes and non-athlete students from minority groups. Participation and completion of the survey will be voluntary. Besides students, the study will also sample clinicians dealing with drug related health condition of students from the three participating universities. Staffs and coaches will help in the clarification and validation of data obtained from the clinician sample and student sample. Moreover, they will provide additional insight to aid in the interpretation of the data.

Data Collection

Research assistants will receive, appropriate training and help in data collection. Participation will follow a written consent of each member. There will be about 45 minutes allocated to each student athlete and non-athlete to fill out survey questions with the help of research assistants. Each participant will disclose whether they are athletes or not, before they start to fill out questions. The survey will combine written and verbal questions and will include both qualitative and quantitative responses.

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Participants will provide, details of their age, ethnicity, family size, length of their athletic occupation, their student status, economic activity, living residence and academic performance. The survey shall adopt self-reported questions that include frequency and quantity usage of performance-enhancing drugs, weight-gain or loss drugs and nutritional supplements.

Data Analysis

There will be differentiation of male students and female students in the comparison of results from athletes and non-athletes. Demographic details provided will, form part of the variables for the study. Additional variables will include ranking of sports activities in the respective universities, within their state. This will assist in profiling the cases of drug use. Descriptive statistics will describe the characteristics of the study group. Means and t-tests will describe normally distributed data, while percentages should handle categorical variables. Association with users of performance-enhancing drugs will fall under the category of low risk, while actual usage of related drugs will fall under the category of high risk. Finally, a regression analysis should examine predictors of performance-enhancing drug usage. All analyses shall be conducted using statistical software like SPSS.


  1. Amy, G. (n.d.). Results from national survey indicate most physicians support drug testing of high school athletes. Colorado Springs Business Journal.
  2. Cadwallader, A. B., Torre, X., Tieri, A., & Botre’, F. (2010). The abuse of diuretics as performance-enhancing drugs and masking agents in sport doping: pharmacology, toxicology and analysis. British Journal of Pharmacology, 161, 1-16.
  3. Coalition addresses abuse of performance-enhancing drugs. (2004). Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly, 16(45), 6.
  4. Fernandez, M. M., & Hosey, R. G. (2009). Performance -enhancing drugs snare nonathletes, too. The Journal of Family Practice, 58(1), 16-23.
  5. Larance, B., Degenhardt, L., Jan, C., & Dillion, P. (2008). Injecting risk behaviour and related harm among men who use performance- and image-enhancing drugs. Drug and Alcohol Review, 27, 679-686.
  6. Yusko, D. A., Buckman, J. F., White, H. R., & Pandina, R. J. (2008). Alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and perfomance enhancers: A comparison of usage by college student athletes and nonathletes. Journal of American College Health, 57(3), 281-289.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Performance Enhancing Drugs and the Student Athletes." December 19, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Performance Enhancing Drugs and the Student Athletes'. 19 December.

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