Athletics: Drug pressure feared

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(First Edition)

MANY of Australia's leading athletes believe they will face increasing pressure to take performance-enhancing drugs in the run-up to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, the Australian Sports Drug Agency said yesterday.

A survey found that 55 per cent of athletes believed the pressure to take drugs, such as steroids, would increase the Games draw closer. 'This feeling is not unique. It is mirrored in those countries which have hosted past Olympics,' Steve Haynes, head of the agency, said.

'There is a lot more at stake when you are competing in front of a home crowd,' he continued. 'A lot of money has been spent and the public expectations are high.'

The agency issued a confidential questionnaire to 616 athletes and found that 86 per cent called for tougher testing, although 84 per cent believed that existing procedures would deter most would-be abusers. Seventy-one per cent wanted the names of athletes recording positive tests to be publicised by their national organisation.