By Julia Younger
Edited for online by Alicia Moo

The reputation of Queensland sport is taking a hammering with the Sunshine State named number one in the country for the use of steroids.

Image of steroid tablets
Use of steroids in sports on the rise. Photo by Terrence S Jones (flickr).

National police figures to be released this month reveal Queensland as the nation’s largest user of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission’s reports have exposed more young people using drugs in sport, driven by a “desire for a particular body image.”

The recent steroid scandal at St Joseph’s Nudgee College has thrown the use of performance-enhancing drugs further into the spotlight.

Canberra University sport psychology assistant professor Richard Keegan said drugs in sport are dangerous.

“It is an issue because it should not be happening and it is affecting people’s safety,” he said.

“Not just to the people who take it but if you are playing against someone that much stronger than you and yet they are in the same age bracket then there is a lot of risk of injury to other people as well.”

Professor Keegan said the implication of drugs in sport is not fair on those who are clean, and it prompts spectators to lose faith in athletes’ natural abilities.

“That perception can undermine their experience of watching it and their willingness to turn up and pay,” he said.

“It can also mean that some of the athletes involved start to question their own involvement after a while.”

He said athletes who do not take drugs may feel pressured to take short cuts.

“When you are playing against someone who is incredibly strong or fast, especially if this news in prevalent in your mind you begin to question and feel hard done by,” he said.

Unfair label

Queensland National Amateur Body Building Association president Mark Ryan said body building is a small sport that will be targeted by Queensland’s steroid claims.

“Body building has a bad name already, so it is always going to reflect badly on us when a story like this comes out,” he said.

He said Queensland as a state has been unfairly targeted by the findings.

“It is the same all over the country. There is no state worse than the other,” he said.

World Anti-Doping Agency social science research sub-committee and behavioural research chair Professor Rob Donovan said the only way to deal with steroids is to implement strict laws and harsh penalties.

“What we need to do is put into sport administrators who understand how business operates, understand corporate law and understand that in certain circumstances these deceptive practices are in fact illegal,” he said.

Fund a crackdown

Professor Keegan agrees and said more money is needed in order to catch offenders of drugs in sport.

“If we are going to pursue this we need to give authorities the appropriate power to investigate,” he said.

“We need to put enough money into governing bodies to make sure that they can track and capture this.”

More information on performance-enhancing drugs is available on the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission website.