17. May 2023  |  News

Study shows: Performance-enhancing drugs are mainly used for "recreational body cult"

Substances to enhance performance and optimize body image (so-called IPEDs) are frequently used in sports. As little data on the situation in Switzerland is available so far, researchers at Arud, in collaboration with the University of Zurich, conducted a comprehensive literature review on the consumption and users of these substances.

A total of 18 studies were evaluated, comprising data from more than 11,000 participants, 140 interviews and around 1,370 substances analyzed. The results show that the use of such substances is widespread in Switzerland, both among athletes and, to a large extent, outside of competitive sports. There is a great variety of different substances and substance types that are used regardless of gender, age and motivation. Apparently, the main motivation is to improve the appearance of the body.

Risks of illegal procurement of IPEDs

The main procurement channel for the substances was the Internet. It turns out that a considerable proportion of the substances acquired were counterfeit, which puts consumers in an incalculable risk situation.

The results suggest that the use of image- and performance-enhancing drugs poses a significant risk to individual and public health. Therefore, the authors see an urgent need for further research as well as prevention, harm reduction and treatment programs for this hard-to-reach and often insufficiently informed user group.

Lack of legal basis for medical care

Existing anti-doping legislation should be critically reviewed to ensure appropriate medical care for these users. The current legal situation in fact prohibits harm-reducing measures for users.

Study by Arud and the University of Zurich
published in swiss medical weekly
Vol. 153 No. 05 (2023)