Androgenic anabolic steroid policy and high school sports: Results from a policy Delphi study

J. Woolf, P. Swain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, androgenic anabolic steroid policy targeted at American high school sports is investigated. In recent years several states have instituted androgenic anabolic steroid testing of high school athletes. These programmes have produced few positive tests and subsequently have been heavily criticized. A heterogeneous panel of sixteen experts was invited to debate the issue of steroid use among high school athletes using a policy Delphi method. The panel included executive managers from anti-doping organizations, academic researchers and advocates for steroid legalization. Panellists communicated their response to three rounds of questionnaires via e-mail. The dominant view expressed by the panel is that steroid use among high school athletes is likely underestimated and will increase in the future. Of concern were the quality of steroids consumed and the unintended consumption of steroids via tainted supplements. The panel was in near unanimous agreement that steroid abuse at this level needs to be addressed. However, the panel was divided on the ways in which doping policy should be implemented at the high school level. A small majority favoured the inclusion of drug testing of athletes. Those in favour of drug testing believed that educational efforts, while necessary, are insufficient to address this issue. Panellists stated that educational initiatives should be presented using a balanced approach that covers the positive and negative effects of steroids. Moreover, educational programmes need to emphasize alternative approaches to performance enhancement and include a moral education component. These issues were explored and the implications for policy discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-106
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescents
  • doping
  • steroids
  • student-athletes
  • supplements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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