Performance Enhancing Drugs in Football is a Significant Public Health Issue that Threatens the Lives of Athletes, Children and Youth

(Toronto, Ontario – June 28, 2011) –   The Honourable Charles L. Dubin released the findings of his Commission of Inquiry into the use of Drugs and Banned Practices Intended to Increase Athletic Performance on June 29, 1990. Twenty-one years later, two task forces have come together to release their final reports and recommendations related to the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) by university student-athletes.

In response to the unprecedented positive results of urine and blood doping control out-of-season testing conducted on CIS football players in the spring and early summer of 2010, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport convened a national Task Force of experts to examine the issue of performance enhancing drug use in football. The Task Force undertook a comprehensive examination and reached consensus on issues in six main areas: Education, Testing and Analysis, Intelligence, Policy/Sanctions, Partner Engagement and Costs/Funding. A full copy of the Final Report is available at

“I have spent a good part of my professional career advocating for drug-free sport as a sport medicine doctor, president of the Sport Medicine Council, member of the IOC Medical Commission and most recently Chief Medical Officer for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,” said Dr. Jack Taunton, Chair of the Task Force on the Use of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Football. “I am most concerned about the significant health issue that doping presents.

“Performance enhancing drugs are threatening the lives of our athletes, our children and our youth.  It is vitally important that the health sectors and governments of our country recognize the seriousness of this health issue and come together to find ways of eradicating it from our society.” 

Concurrently, Ontario University Athletics (OUA) formed the OUA PEDs Education Task Force. Chaired by Bob Copeland, University of Waterloo Director of Athletics & Recreational Services, the task force was created to review, analyze and report on current PED education programs offered to OUA student-athletes, coaches and administrators, and make recommendations for improvement of education and policies.

A full copy of the report can be found here.

“The work of the OUA Task Force members, combined with results from a comprehensive survey of OUA institutions on this issue, clearly suggests that much more effective and robust education is needed to combat the scourge of PEDs – of fundamental importance to the health of our students and the integrity of our programs and institutions. Although there is a strong need to ramp-up educational efforts, there is an equally strong will amongst member universities of the OUA to enhance education surrounding PEDs not only for the sport of football, but across all sports.”

The Task Force on the Use of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Football worked collaboratively with the OUA Task Force and strongly supports their recommendations. Their work informed and complements the work contained within the national Task Force’s report.

The Task Force on the Use of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Football is optimistic that the recommendations contained within the Final Report will influence the development and implementation of innovative doping prevention programs which transcend the student-athlete population from high school through college and university football.

Some key recommendations include:

“The Task Force members unanimously agreed that use of performance enhancing drugs by football players poses a serious health risk to children and youth who want to try to emulate their heroes,” said Paul Melia, President and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. “We are hopeful that this document will generate positive discussion and dialogue across government departments, including Health Canada and Sport Canada, with all orders of government including provincial and territorial education ministries, sport authorities, and corporate Canada.

“We need to find new ways of educating athletes about the serious health consequences of using performance enhancing drugs to deter and prevent doping.”

An observation by Justice Dubin twenty-one years ago seems prophetic. The following is an excerpt from The Honourable Charles L. Dubin Commission of Inquiry into the use of Drugs and Banned Practices Intended to Increase Athletic Performance: “The resolution of this problem cannot simply be left to those who govern sport nationally and internationally. The events of the last year illustrate that it will require a joint commitment by others, and particularly by the parents and educators of our children whose physical and moral health is at risk.”

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport is an independent, national, not-for-profit organization. We recognize that true sport can make a great difference for individuals, communities and our country. We are committed to working collaboratively to activate a values-based and principle-driven sport system; protecting the integrity of sport from the negative forces of doping and other unethical threats; and advocating for sport that is fair, safe and open to everyone.


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Megan Cumming
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