Drug use in sports 'rarely occurs in isolation': academic

A MELBOURNE academic says it is naive to think doping is confined to professional sport and is undoubtedly happening in regional areas.

The Australian Crime Commission investigation into organised crime and drugs in sport uncovered examples of peptides and hormones being used by sub-elite athletes.

These athletes are considered a high-risk group for doping due to the highly competitive environment to break into elite sport, the report reads.

It would include athletes competing in semi-professional competitions that have regionally-based teams.

Associate Professor John Fitzgerald, an expert in alcohol and drug policy from the University of Melbourne, said more research was needed to gauge the level of doping in regional areas.

"I'm sorry to say there's not much (research) at all and it's something that really needs to be looked at because from my point of view what happens in a professional setting rarely occurs in isolation," Prof Fitzgerald said.

"We tend to think these things can only happen at a higher level because of the higher level of sophistication.

"I would question that wisdom.

"I would think that we really need to think about what's happening at a grass roots level because the evidence is very clear that back in 2004 these substances were entering the country through Malaysia (and) their main point of contact was through regional gymnasiums."

Prof Fitzgerald was referring to a drug bust in 2004 in which 400,000 tablets of pseudoephedrine and 2kg of steroids were seized during raids on gyms in Albury and Bendigo.

The ACC also made the point that peptides and hormones were becoming increasingly popular among bodybuilders and gym users.



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