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Children’s first experience of taking anabolic-androgenic steroids can occur before their 10th birthday: a systematic review identifying 9 factors that predict doping among young people

Andres, Mar P.; Nicholls, Adam R.; Mueller, David; Thompson, Mark A.; Kristensen, Annemarie H.; Andrés, Mar P.; Theodorou, Nikolaos C.; Bailey, Richard; Cope, Ed; Nicholls, Adam; Andrés, Mar Plata; Baumann, Wolfgang; Chanal, Benoit; Dumon, Detlef; Koenen, Katrin; Kristensen, Annemarie; Laurent, Jean-Francois; Müller, David; Saint Laurent, Delphine; Theodorou, Nikolaos; Thompson, Mark


Mar P. Andres

Adam R. Nicholls

David Mueller

Mark A. Thompson

Annemarie H. Kristensen

Mar P. Andrés

Nikolaos C. Theodorou

Richard Bailey

Ed Cope

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Professor Adam Nicholls
Professor of Psychology/ Leader of the Sport Psychology and Coaching Group

Mar Plata Andrés

Wolfgang Baumann

Benoit Chanal

Detlef Dumon

Katrin Koenen

Annemarie Kristensen

Jean-Francois Laurent

David Müller

Delphine Saint Laurent

Nikolaos Theodorou

Mark Thompson


Taking performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) can cause serious and irreversible health consequences, which can ultimately lead to premature death. Some young people may take PEDs without fully understanding the ramifications of their actions or based on the advice from others. The purpose of this systematic review was to identify the main factors that predicted doping among young people. The literature was systematically reviewed using search engines, manually searching specialist journals, and pearl growing. Fifty-two studies, which included 187,288 young people aged between 10 and 21 years of age, 883 parents of adolescent athletes, and 11 adult coaches, who were interviewed regarding young athletes, were included in this review. Nine factors predicted doping among young people: gender; age; sports participation; sport type; psychological variables; entourage; ethnicity; nutritional supplements’ and health harming behaviors. In regards to psychological variables, 22 different constructs were associated with doping among young people. Some psychological constructs were negatively associated with doping (e.g., self-esteem, resisting social pressure, and perfectionist strivings), whereas other were positively associated with doping (e.g., suicide risk, anticipated regret, and aggression). Policy makers and National Anti-Doping Organisations could use these findings to help identify athletes who are more at risk of doping and then expose these individuals to anti-doping education. Based on the current findings, it also appears that education programs should commence at the onset of adolescence or even late childhood, due to the young age in which some individuals start doping.


Nicholls, A. R., Bailey, R., Theodorou, N. C., Andrés, M. P., Kristensen, A. H., Thompson, M. A., …Thompson, M. (2017). Children’s first experience of taking anabolic-androgenic steroids can occur before their 10th birthday: a systematic review identifying 9 factors that predict doping among young people. Frontiers in psychology Frontiers Research Foundation, 8(JUN), Article ARTN 1015.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 1, 2017
Online Publication Date Jun 20, 2017
Publication Date Jan 1, 2017
Deposit Date Jun 2, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jun 2, 2017
Journal Frontiers in psychology
Print ISSN 1664-1078
Electronic ISSN 1664-1078
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Issue JUN
Article Number ARTN 1015
Keywords Performance enhancing drugs, Gender differences, Age differences, Sports participation, Nutritional supplements, Nutritional supplementation, Entourage, Ethnicity, Health harming behaviours, Youth, Adolescents, Children, Exercise, Body image, Attitudes, A
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article which has been accepted for future publication in: Frontiers in psychology, 2017, v.8


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