Succeed Clean – performance enhancing drug outreach program – making an impact in schools

(Ottawa, Ontario – October 29, 2013) – The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES), in partnership with the Waterloo Regional Police Service, the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and the Kitchener Rangers, launched the Succeed Clean program last year with a goal to reduce the use of appearance and performance enhancing drugs (APEDs) by creating and disseminating effective education and information tools for children and youth, parents, educators and coaches in the Region of Waterloo. The project, funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, also aims to create a model of best practices that can be replicated in other communities throughout Ontario and the rest of Canada.

Results from the first year of this pilot project demonstrate that the program is making a difference. Fourteen presentations to 1,320 high school and elementary (middle) students in the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) and Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) were delivered during the 2012-13 school year by student-athletes from the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Kitchener Rangers. In addition, six facilitator-led community conversations allowed 240 adult influencers and stakeholders to weigh in on and learn about the issues. By design, these discussions involved smaller groups to ensure rich discussion and interaction.

"We are very pleased with the progress of this innovative community pilot program in the Region of Waterloo," said Paul Melia, President and CEO of the CCES. "The collaborative efforts of the project partners to engage local citizens demonstrate that you can make a difference when you mobilize the assets within a community."

A significant component of the first-year pilot was research conducted by the Social Innovation Research Group (SIRG) at the Faculty of Social Work, Wilfrid Laurier University. Students attending presentations completed pre- and post-surveys assessing their experiences and attitudes related to APEDs, what they learned from the presentations, and how they rated the experience.

Key Student Survey findings:

  • 701 pre-surveys completed (427 high school, avg. age = 16.7; 274 middle school, avg. age = 13);
  • 615 post-surveys completed (354 high school; 261 middle school);
  • 1 in 3 students are taking supplements, with 37 per cent taking two or more (pre-survey);
  • 1 in 4 students reported knowing someone at their school who is using steroids;
  • The results offer evidence that there is a relationship between nutritional supplements and APEDs – students  who indicated a willingness to use an APED were more likely to be taking a nutritional supplement;
  • 32 per cent of respondents did not know about the risks of taking supplements, or believed there are few risks (pre-survey); post survey, all groups saw supplements as riskier;
  • All post survey groups were significantly more knowledgeable about steroid side-effects after attending the presentation;
  • The results from the pre- and post-survey comparisons showed that after the presentation, students increased their understanding of the potential risks of supplements; increased their knowledge about side-effects of steroids, were less willing to take an APED, and had increased knowledge about healthy ways to improve performance;
  • Almost all respondents were satisfied with the presentations and rated it highly.

"The presentations made a difference in continuing to raise awareness about APEDs," commented Bob Copeland, Director of Athletics at the University of Waterloo.

Students were highly engaged and receptive to both the message and the role of student-athletes in delivering the message. Some comments from the surveys, echoed by multiple respondents, included: "Even supplements like vitamins can't always be safe", "steroids are a big deal and if you take them you will face serious consequences," and "it's not worth ruining your career to look good."

Some findings, however, are cause for concern, including the fact that one in four students reported knowing someone at their school who is using steroids. The survey also revealed six students who admitted to using steroids, although no conclusions on prevalence of use can be drawn from this. "These findings demonstrate that steroid use is happening in our schools, and that programs like Succeed Clean are vital to educate our young people about the dangers of these drugs and other APEDs," commented Chief of Waterloo Region Police Service, Matt Torigian.

The community conversations targeted a variety of people including parents, minor sport volunteers, educators, members of community groups and local business leaders. These conversations revealed that there is little concern about steroids amongst adult influencers, with greater emphasis on the risks associated with supplements and energy drinks. These findings are consistent with the results of a nationwide survey recently conducted in the United States by the Center for Social Development and Education and the Center for Survey Research at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Until this point, there was very little comparative Canadian data; however, these preliminary findings suggest the need for a more rigorous examination of these issues in Canada.

Adults who participated in the focus groups clearly got the message and want more information. "Education is the key,” said one community conversation participant. “At this age, kids don't listen to teachers and police – it is important to teach kids through their peers. Are energy drinks a 'gateway' drug to 'harder' APEDs?"

The second year of the program was launched on October 23 with a series of school outreach visits planned and enhanced opportunities for community input in 2013/14.                                                      

Further reading:

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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For further information, please contact:

Ben Lungo
Communications Officer
+1 613-521-3282 x3282
[email protected]