EHFA – European Health and Fitness Association (the representative body of the health & fitness sector, based in Brussels, Belgium) was awarded a grant by the European Commission (Agreement Number EAC-2010-1283) to lead a project to research and develop preventative strategies to counter doping practices in fitness facilities. EHFA was chosen as 1 of only 3 successful applicants from 146 submissions to the funding stream under the European Commission’s Preparatory Action in the Field of Sport. The EU allocates funding, such as this, to assist worthy, important and necessary projects which could not be carried out without the financial support of the Commission.
– The Fitness Against Doping project was co-funded by the European Commission
The full report is available below. One of the principle recommendations was to develop a unified Code of Conduct for the European fitness sector to adopt and implement. Since the completion of the project this has been completed and was published in August 2012.
To view the Code of Conduct click here
The project has now concluded the and the final report has been submitted to the Commission.
Fitness Against Doping Conclusion
The FAD project has formed the basis for fresh thinking on future directions to reduce the prevalence of doping in fitness and amateur sport. There is no single solution nor should any particular doping substance take priority over any other.
EHFA has a powerful position as a platform organisation which is capable of coordinating detailed interventions and strategies through its national association partners downwards to many thousands of fitness centres across Europe and tens of thousands of exercise professionals. The Commission’s strategy of “supporting transnational anti-doping networks, including networks focusing on preventive measures targeting amateur sport, sport for all and fitness” is clearly a sensible way forward which can have the capacity to bring together many agencies in a coordinated approach, but which must, as a starting point, include the fitness sector itself.
The FAD report will help to dispel myths and perceptions about the prevalence of doping, but through the research undertaken in this project and ensuing Fitness Anti-Doping Charter, it has focussed the mind of the sector on this subject and reinforced the message that the taking of doping substances is not to be tolerated. Regardless of the nature or frequency that substances are being used, they simply should not be taken deliberately or inadvertently by fitness centre users. Citing a lack of knowledge or education as the cause is not acceptable. The project findings and the overwhelmingly positive responsive from the sector to move towards reducing levels of doping have already had an influence on the thinking of anti-doping agencies and the expert group advising the Council.
The simple answer is that to bring about the necessary behavioural changes it will take time and it will need a concerted effort from many organisations before there can be a realistic reduction in the use of doping. It is not credible that enforcement, control, sanctions or even criminalisation will be effective, and there has never been any evidence to support this direction. Better education of exercise professionals, of consumers themselves, and to aid managers of clubs to intervene, will provide a better structure for the positive reinforcement that effective and beneficial training does not require any stimulants at all – from whichever source.
There may be a residual number of steroid users who will never change their minds or attitude but the sector has a responsibility to help protect the unwary and innocent and the vulnerable young, who may be swayed by false promises and too little information on the harmful effects that drugs cause to health. EHFA and its partners will support the Commission in its direction on anti-doping and will cooperate and help with any initiative that is evidenced-based and which will bring about lasting changes through positive interventions.
In five and ten years’ time the research should be done again to see what is happening and what has changed – for the better.
The Fitness Against Doping project could not have been completed without the contributions of many organisations and individuals from the European health and fitness sector. Notable thanks must of course go to the project partners who have executed the project plan with the utmost commitment and professionalism; therefore we would like to extend our gratitude to the following partners and individuals:
In designing and implementing the field research, there was expert assistance from Mike Hill of Leisure-net Solutions and website survey design and coordination by Robbie McGregor. The incisive review of the results and psychological interpretation into specific interventions and policy for future action, was developed by John Hattam and colleagues from Scintillate.
We would also like to acknowledge and thank those people and organisations who responded during the several rounds of consultation, their comments have helped shape the final recommendations in this report. We would also like to thank the EHFA Board for providing quality management and their overview throughout the project. In particular we must acknowledge the individuals involved in both the EHFA Standards Council under its chairmanship of Prof. Alfonso Jiménez.
Finally, we would like to thank the Sport Unit of the Directorate General for Education and Culture for the confidence and support they have given to EHFA to undertake this project that will now take the fitness sector forward to build a framework of action to encourage the promotion of health enhancing physical activity across Europe and a zero tolerance policy towards the use of doping substances.