Drugs in Sport: Steroid abuse still 'a significant problem': Radford and Sports Council express concern over misuse of anabolic agents

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The Independent Online
DRUG abusers in sport are sticking, as it were, to tried and tested methods. Announcing marginally improved figures for the 1993-94 Sports Council drug-testing programme yesterday, Professor Peter Radford, chairman of the drug-abuse advisory group, emphasised that misuse of anabolic agents was still 'a significant problem'.

Out of 41 positive findings, the number of cases involving anabolic agents such as nandrolone and methandienone accounted for 20. Last year there were also 20 anabolic cases out of 48 positive findings.

Radford, who described the overall comparative figure in the last year as 'encouraging but not necessarily significant', added: 'Stories about fancy, space-age new drugs which competitors are turning to may or may not be true, but there are old-fashioned ones still to deal with. The trend of steroid use and abuse is continuing despite an increase in the number of out- of-competition tests by 20 per cent in the last year.'

As the Sports Council endeavours to target its finite resources more accurately - around 4,000 samples are taken each year - the main problems it faces are ones beyond its jurisdiction. The growth of anabolic use in gyms, which Radford describes as an 'insidious trend', is hard to contain.

At the other end of the problem is the question of legislation to make it illegal to import anabolic agents. The Home Office has been considering amending the Misuse of Drugs Act to this effect for at least six years, but there were uncertain noises from the Sports Council yesterday about how practical or beneficial such an amendment would be. There are fears that such action would drive the supply of anabolics underground.

'This is no longer a problem for sport, it is a wider social problem,' Derek Casey, acting director general of the Sports Council, said.