Christiansen ready for the upcoming International Conference
Will be presenting own research on anabolic steroid use in gyms and fitness centres.
Ask Vest Christiansen, PhD, will be holding two presentations at this summers International Conference on Doping and Public Health in Oslo.
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Can you tell us a few words about what you will be presenting?
- In the first slot I will be presenting my own research concerning an ideal typology on anabolic steroid use in gyms and fitness centres. The idea behind this research is to move away from only talking about different kinds of users, in terms of various athletes (e.g. fitness, bodybuilding, strongmen) or vocations (doormen, police officers, models), to instead focus on the user’s approach to his use, i.e. how he percieves risk and and effectiveness. Using this as a point of departure we went through our own and lots of other qualitative studies to develope the ideal typology consisting of four idealtypical approaches to steroid use, which I will present.
- For the second presentation I represent the Erasmus+ project called: Forum for Anti-doping in Recreational Sport 2 (FAIR2). I will present this project’s aim and ambition. In short the FAIR 2 project aims at reviewing existing good practices in a coordinated manner to support and develop initiatives that are aimed at raising awareness across the EU, within the public health sector, and in the recreational sport and fitness sectors, in order to make an active contribution to the prevention of doping.
You've researched the use of drugs in fitness and strenght training environments - what do we know about the extent of the drug use?
- This is a difficult question to answer in a few lines. Most prevalence studies have methodological issues, but the few strong longitudinal studies that exist does NOT indicate a steroid epidemic as some media and research reports would like us to believe. Most likely the prevalence in Western Europe lies in the area between 0,5 percent and 2 percent – and has done so for the last ten years. Whether one finds this prevalence to be alarming or not is, I think, a matter of taste.
In your opinion, what can we do to increase knowledge about doping as a public health problem?
- First we need to make sure what we mean when we say it is a public health problem. As the study by Nutt et al. publiched in The Lancet in 2010 documented, there are many other drugs that constitutes far bigger public health problems than anabolic steroids – alcohol being the most obvious. But in terms of reducing harms in this area I consider evidence based, reliable information and dialougue with users and potential users to be the best means available.
Are there any topics in the field of anti-doping you think deserve more attention?
- Considering the actual size of the problem, this field do actually have quite some attention. Not least because of the media attention from its cousin – doping in elite sport. But I think we do need a more thorough discussion on both the preventing strategies we apply and how we help those who end up in trouble after using e.g. anabolic steroids. Should we e.g. in Scandinavia begin to consider different kinds of harm reduction strategies as a supplement to the punitive approach and educational strategies we have applied so far?
Several high-profile presenters will attent this summers conference. Is there anyone you particularly look forward to listen to and why?
- I am really sorry that I will miss the presentation by Dr Harrison Pope. He is definitely one of the most influential researchers in this area. I have heard him present previsously, but would really have liked to hear him again. Hopefully, I will get the chance to talk to him on Thursday and Friday. Also, I am eager to hear Travis Tygart sharing his experience on legislation and law enforcement.
Ask Vest Christiansen, PhD, is an associate professor of sport science in the Department of Public Health at Aarhus University (AU) in Denmark. He is head of Section for Sport Sciences at AU and the co-director of the International Network of Doping Research (INDR).
Dr Christiansen’s research has followed two main branches: Doping in elite sport and recreational athletes’ use of drugs in fitness and strength training environments. He has often addressed the athletes’ perspective in order to understand the motives and moral values that lie behind their decisions to use drugs or not to use drugs.