Share this article on:

Predictors of the Use of Performance-Enhancing Substances by Young Athletes

Goulet, Claude PhD*; Valois, Pierre PhD; Buist, André BSc; Côté, Mélanie MSc

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: July 2010 - Volume 20 - Issue 4 - p 243-248
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e3181e0b935
Original Research

Objectives: To document the use of performance-enhancing substances (PES) by young athletes and to identify associated factors.

Design: Retrospective survey.

Setting: Self-reported anonymous questionnaire.

Participants: Three thousand five hundred seventy-three athletes (mean age, 15.5 years) from Quebec provincial teams run by organizations recognized by the Government of Quebec.

Interventions: All subjects filled out a validated questionnaire on factors associated with the use of and the intention to use PES.

Main Outcome Measures: The use of and intention to use PES.

Results: In the 12 months before filling out the questionnaire, 25.8% of respondents admitted having attempted to improve their athletic performance by using 1 or more of 15 substances that were entirely prohibited or restricted by the International Olympic Committee. Multiple regression analyses showed that behavioral intention (β = 0.34) was the main predictor of athletes' use of PES. Attitude (β = 0.09), subjective norm (β = 0.13), perceived facilitating factors (β = 0.40), perceived moral obligation (β = −0.18), and pressure from the athlete's entourage to gain weight (β = 0.10) were positively associated with athletes' behavioral intention to use PES.

Conclusions: This study provides evidence that supports the predicting value of the theory of planned behavior. Results suggest that the athlete's psychosocial environment has a significant impact on the decision to use PES and support the need to integrate this factor into the development and implementation of prevention interventions.

From the *Department of Physical Education, Laval University, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada; †Département des fondements et pratiques en éducation, Laval University, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada; and ‡Direction de la promotion de la sécurité, ministère de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport du Québec, Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada.

Submitted for publication September 23, 2009; accepted March 30, 2010.

Funding for this study was provided by the Quebec Ministry of Education, Leisure, and Sport.

C. Goulet was at the ministère de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport du Québec (Quebec Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sport) when this study was undertaken.

Reprints: Claude Goulet, PhD, Department of Physical Education, Pavillon de l'Éducation physique et des sports, 2300, rue de la Terrasse, local 2176, Université Laval, Quebec City, QC G1V 0A6, Canada (e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.