INDIANAPOLIS – Continued controversy over the use of banned substances by elite athletes has prompted leading medical and sports organizations to call for stringent ethical principles for physicians, allied medical professionals, coaches, athletic trainers and others. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and a growing list of other organizations have formed Professionals Against Doping in Sports (PADS) to unite in their commitment to drug-free sports.
Recent headlines about athletes testing positive for banned substances continue to heighten interest in doping in sports and raise awareness in the public eye. All sports are at risk for doping, and the significant dangers of prioritizing winning above all else, including compromising health and competitive ethics, makes this a critical issue for medical and sport professionals to be proactive in countering. ACSM has long decried the use of performance-enhancing substances, in statements ranging from a 1984 Position Stand to this year’s support for federal legislation regulating dietary supplements.
PADS member organizations are asked to adopt standards modeled on the Statement of Principles of Ethical Behavior for ACSM Members. That declaration asks, in part, that members:
- Will treat athletes only as their medical conditions warrant and will observe the rules of the appropriate anti-doping organizations regarding use of prohibited substances and methods;
- Will not advise, aid or abet any athlete to use prohibited substances or methods of doping; and
- Will use all means possible to deter doping by athletes.
"At the forefront of concern about steroids and doping is the short- and long-term health and welfare of the athlete, himself or herself," said Thomas Best, M.D., Ph.D., FACSM, President of ACSM and a team physician with The Ohio State University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Department of Family Medicine. "In addition, you want competitors in sports to be using natural ability and trained talent to compete, without the issue or suspicion of drug use intended to provide an unfair advantage.”
The PADS website (www.nodope.org) lists dozens of partner and member organizations, including sports governing bodies, medical societies and advocacy organizations. “We are all working to ensure that the professional community of physicians, scientists, athletic trainers and others are united in commitment to drug-free sports,” said Richard Hilderbrand, Ph.D., a member of the PADS task force. “These organizations are taking steps individually and collectively to reduce this major challenge to health in sports and preserve the integrity of sports performance and legacies.”
“Integral to an athlete’s health and safety is the support system that surrounds them,” said Daniel Eichner, Ph.D., USADA Science Director. “Committing to competing ethically, healthfully and drug-free includes the medical experts, coaches, trainers and others who participate in athletes’ sport lives. These professionals play a significant role in understanding, supporting and observing anti-doping rules.”
“PADS is not passing judgment on any individual athlete,” said Elizabeth Joy, M.D., M.P.H., FACSM, who also serves on the PADS task force. “We are speaking up to help protect the integrity of sports performance and athletic achievements as well as the health of all athletes. Elite athletes serve as role models for younger and aspiring competitors and should demonstrate the highest personal standards. This includes scrupulously avoiding the use or ingestion of banned substances. We’re calling on professionals who work with athletes to commit to helping rid sports of banned substances.”
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 40,000 international, national and regional members are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) is responsible for the testing and results management processes for athletes in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement, and is equally dedicated to preserving the integrity of sport through research initiatives and educational programs.