New study: Australians say no to performance enhancing drugs

16 Nov 2012

A recent study from The University of Queensland's Centre for Clinical Research (UQCCR) delivers some of the first empirical data about public attitudes towards performance enhancing drugs. 

Dr Brad Partridge and colleagues surveyed 1265 Australians (aged 18+) via the Queensland Social Survey, about their attitudes toward performance enhancing drugs (PED's). 

The findings showed that 85.8 percent of participants found it unacceptable for healthy people without a diagnosed disorder to use prescription drugs to enhance their concentration or alertness. 

In addition, 93 percent of participants disagreed that people who play professional sport should be allowed to use PED's if they wanted. 

Dr Partridge said one of the most interesting findings of the study was that so many people were against professional athletes taking PED's, even if the rules would allow them to do so. 

“Doping is punished because it's against the rules, but what if the prohibition on doping was relaxed and athletes could use PED's if they wanted to? Our study suggests that members of the public see doping in sport as completely unacceptable and changing the rules to allow the use of PED's wouldn't make it any more acceptable in their eyes," Dr Partridge said. 

There have been suggestions that prescription stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall are used by some university students as “smart drugs” to help them study or increase normal attention span. 

As with doping in sport, the safety of using drugs this way is uncertain and some worry that it amounts to cheating. 

“Although most people disapproved of using prescription medication for cognitive enhancement, some people are enthusiastic about the idea of enhancement,” Dr Partridge said. 

“Those who thought cognitive enhancement was acceptable were nearly ten times more likely to think athletes should be allowed to engage in doping if they wanted to," he said.

Media contact: Shannah O’Brien (Marketing and Communications Officer (UQCCR), 07 3346 6041 or