Doping in Two Elite Athletics Competitions Assessed by Randomized-Response Surveys

Doping in Two Elite Athletics Competitions Assessed by Randomized-Response Surveys / Rolf Ulrich, Harrison G. Pope Jr, Léa Cléret, Andrea Petróczi, Tamás Nepusz, Jay Schaffer, Gen Kanayama, R. Dawn Comstock, Perikles Simon. – (Sports Medicine (28 August 2017) : p. 1-9). - doi:10.1007/s40279-017-0765-4


1. Introduction
2. Methods
2.1 Study Design and Participation
2.2 Procedure
3. Results
3.1 Primary Analysis
3.2 Analyses Using Response Time
4. Discussion
4.1 Summary
4.2 Limitations
5. Conclusion



Doping in sports compromises fair play and endangers health. To deter doping among elite athletes, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) oversees testing of several hundred thousand athletic blood and urine samples annually, of which 1–2% test positive. Measures using the Athlete Biological Passport suggest a higher mean prevalence of about 14% positive tests. Biological testing, however, likely fails to detect many cutting-edge doping techniques, and thus the true prevalence of doping remains unknown.

We surveyed 2167 athletes at two sporting events: the 13th International Association of Athletics Federations Word Championships in Athletics (WCA) in Daegu, South Korea in August 2011 and the 12th Quadrennial Pan-Arab Games (PAG) in Doha, Qatar in December 2011. To estimate the prevalence of doping, we utilized a “randomized response technique,” which guarantees anonymity for individuals when answering a sensitive question. We also administered a control question at PAG assessing past-year use of supplements.


The estimated prevalence of past-year doping was 43.6% (95% confidence interval 39.4–47.9) at WCA and 57.1% (52.4–61.8) at PAG. The estimated prevalence of past-year supplement use at PAG was 70.1% (65.6–74.7%). Sensitivity analyses, assessing the robustness of these estimates under numerous hypothetical scenarios of intentional or unintentional noncompliance by respondents, suggested that we were unlikely to have overestimated the true prevalence of doping.


Doping appears remarkably widespread among elite athletes, and remains largely unchecked despite current biological testing. The survey technique presented here will allow future investigators to generate continued reference estimates of the prevalence of doping.
Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s40279-017-0765-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


(Medical) Science
28 August 2017
Cléret, Léa
Comstock, R. Dawn
Kanayama, Gen
Nepusz, Tamas
Petróczi, A.
Pope, Harrison G. Jr.
Schaffer, Jay
Simon, P.
Ulrich, R.
Document category
Document type
Athletics (IAAF) - International Association of Athletics Federations
Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH)
Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen - University of Tübingen
Høgskolen i Molde (HiM) - Molde University College
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz - Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Kingston University London
McLean Hospital
Swansea University
University of Northern Colorado (UNC)
University of Sheffield
  • (Medical) Science
  • Doping classes
  • Education
  • History
  • Laboratories
  • Legal
  • Statistics
Publication period
Country & language
  • Country
  • Language
Other filters
  • ADRV
  • Document category
  • Document type
  • Health/Medical
  • IF'S
  • Laboratories/Analysis
  • Legal Terms
  • Organisations
  • Substances
  • Various
  • Version