Historically anti-doping efforts have focused on the detection and deterrence of doping in elite sport and football has not been an exception. However, there is a growing concern among policy makers and sport stakeholders that doping outside the elite sporting system is an expanding and problematic phenomenon, giving rise to the belief that the misuse of doping agents in recreational sport has become a societal problem and a public health concern.
Whereas the latter is happening at high level, the same level of awareness is missing among amateur football players representing a major issue if we consider the social harm and impact upon both users and sport communities doping abuse might create.
The use of drugs in football is not widely associated with the sport because of lack of evidence, unlike individual sports such as cycling, weight-lifting, and track and field. Much closer collaboration and further investigation is needed with regard to banned substances, detection methods, and data collection.
In the case of football, doping controls and anti-doping education provided by NADOs and state authorities mostly refer to elite level athletes. However, football associations can reach wider numbers of athletes and coaches at the grassroots level that is expected to benefit anti-doping education overall.
Thus, the proposed project is the first of its kind, in terms of providing a sport-specific educational material that will be delivered to grassroots level footballers.