On Wednesday 10th November EuropeActive live-streamed from Brussels the 5th Annual FORUM for Anti-Doping in Recreational Sport. With over 130 registered virtual participants, attendees represented an interested mix of anti-doping practitioners, researchers and academics, representatives of the sport movement and of various sport ministries from around the globe. 85% of participants found the Forum very informative, while over 70% shared their interest to be involved in the drafting of the FAIR+ Educational Guidelines. The latter will be presented at the 6th Forum in November 2022 and seek to provide recommendations on how to implement and assess effective educational campaigns that target coaches, trainers and instructors. 

The Forum began with Chairman Prof. Michael McNamee welcoming participants and underlining the importance of the fight against doping in recreational sport through EU funded projects in the framework of the Erasmus+ Programme.

Session 1: Performance enhancing drugs in recreational sport

The first session was dedicated to the introduction of the FAIR+ Project. Cliff Collins, EuropeActive Programmes Director said: "In the first half of the day, we will be looking at the findings of what is the largest anti-doping research in recreational sport that has ever been done. The afternoon sessions will give the opportunity to get some more details about how we will use this information to educate coaches and trainers in recreational sport".

A panel session on the use of performance enhancing drugs in recreational sport in Europe was moderated by Prof. McNamee and included panelists Dr Monika Frenger, Dr Werner Pitsch, Prof. Ask Vest Christiansen, Prof. Andrea Chirico, Dr Olivier de Hon to discuss the key findings of the European survey on the use of performance enhancing drugs in recreational sports.

The largest survey ever conducted in recreational sport revealed that 91% of athletes did not take a banned substance to improve their performance whilst less than 0.5% positively replied that they did use a banned substance. The other 8.5% could not be fully verified either way. These medications included, for example, pain killers, mood enhancers, caffeine, and other stimulating drugs.

Deputy Head of Sport Unit Marisa Fernandez Esteban gave an overview of European Commission’s efforts in Anti-Doping. She also underlined the importance of EU-funded projects in the framework of the Erasmus+ Programme to continue the fight against doping as well as the Commission's efforts in developing initiatives to coordinate multi-level actions to fight doping in elite and recreational sport.

Session 1 concluded with Prof. McNamee summarising the main takeaways from the survey results and inviting the audience to attend the afternoon sessions of the day.

Session 2: The FAIR+ FORUM

In the afternoon sessions, panelists Erik Duiven, Dr. Laurie Patterson and Dr Michael Petrou discussed the survey findings about anti-doping education amongst coaches, trainers and instructors in recreational sport. They also provided specific and evidence-led recommendations on how to set-up effective educational campaigns targeting recreational sport coaches, instructors and trainers with indications on how to evaluate and measure their efficacy.

In the second panel of the session two, moderator Prof. Mcnamee and panelists Dr Sergio Lara-Bercial, Jukka Koskelo, Prof. Adam Nicholls and Dr. Fredrik Lauritzen shared their impressions and experiences of anti-doping education amongst coaches, trainers and instructors in recreational sport.

"NADOS will play a role in coordinating educational efforts, but we have to do it alongside healthcare providers, sports, fitness clubs and schools" said Dr. Fredrik Lauritzen. Jukka Koselo agreed, adding that "collaboration between different organisations is important, and the resources allocated should be balanced and large enough to support educational work".

The Erasmus+ Project IMPACT was presented by Dr Lambros Lazuras from Sheffield Hallam University. He stressed the importance of collaborating across other anti-doping actions including those from the World Anti-Doping Association, the International Olympic Committee and the Council of Europe.

Professor Michael McNamee ended the Forum by highlighting the importance of the Erasmus+ programme in expanding the focus in the field of anti-doping: "The sphere of anti-doping in recreational sport is truly creating its own identity, moving away from anti-doping's traditional focus on elite sport. The Erasmus+ programme has been central in funding initial studies and research in anti-doping in recreational sport".

The Forum has established itself as one of the most relevant European anti-doping events gathering experts, institutions and stakeholders to exchange on current policies and challenges. Since 2017, the Forum has contributed to raise policy-makers’ awareness of doping in recreational sport as a societal and public health concern, and it strives to foster further EU-level cooperation, networking and sharing of good practices and ideas.

We would like to warmly thank again project partners and external speakers, without whom the quality of the event’s content would not be of the same calibre:

Project partners:

Prof Susan Backhouse (Leeds Beckett University)

Prof Ask Vest Christiansen (Aarhus University)

Erik Duiven (Doping Authority Netherlands)

Gaetan Garcia (TAFISA)

Dr Fredrik Lauritzen (Anti-Doping Authority Norway)

Prof Fabio Lucidi and Prof Andrea Chirico (University of Rome)

Prof Michael McNamee (KULeuven & Swansea University)

Dr Michael Petrou (Cyprus Anti-Doping Authority)

PD Dr Werner Pitsch and Dr Monika Frenger (European Institute for Socioeconomics)

External speakers:

Dr Olivier de Hon (Doping Authority Netherlands)

Marisa Fernandez Esteban (European Commission)

Jukka Koskelo (Dopinglinkii)

Dr Sergio Lara-Bercial (International Council for Coaching Excellence)

Dr Lambros Lazuras (Sheffield Hallam University)

Prof Adam Nicholls (Hull University)

And Dr Laurie Patterson (Leeds Becket University)

The recording of the 5th FAIR+ Forum is avaiable here: https://youtu.be/UryGyY_ee6s

For more information, please visit www.europeactive.eu/fair-project

Nov 15, 2021 By Carlos Fernandez