More resources needed for the Police to prevent doping among recreational athletes


Tobias Elgán, Pia Kvillemo & Johanna Gripenberg, STAD
Published 7 Jun 2023

The Swedish Police view doping as a widespread societal problem linked to a number of different misconducts such as violent crimes, intimate partner violence, drug-related, and gang-related crimes. The Police’s doping prevention work can be improved by for instance increasing the knowledge level among police officers, as well as improving the collaboration between the police and gyms and other training facilities.

To investigate the views on doping and related problems among police officers, as well as facilitators and barriers to effective doping-preventive work, a web-survey and an interview study were conducted among police officers . Data was collected from October 2020 to May 2022 by researchers at the Stockholm Prevents Alcohol and Drug Problems – STAD unit at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

Results reveal that 63 percent of the officers view doping as a large or very large problem in society. The vast majority of the police officers also report that doping co-exists in other types of crimes such as violent crimes (96%), intimate partner violence (88%), drug-related crimes (88%), and gang-related crimes (86%). Almost all police officers (96%) consider it part of their duties to work against doping, but at the same time 64 percent think that doping-related work is not prioritized in their local police area. A majority, 61 percent consider their local police area to not work strategic with doping, and 53 percent think that they are not given enough resources to work against doping. About three out of four (74%) think that doping-related training among police officers is lacking. Of those 34 percent who reported that they collaborate with other actors in the community, 94 percent reported that they collaborate with gyms and other training facilities. These results are also supported by the interviews conducted with police officers.

Doping as a societal problem

All forms of production, distribution, possession, and use of doping substances such as anabolic androgenic steroids and growth hormones, is illegal in Sweden. Exceptions are made if doping substances are used for medical purposes and prescribed by a medical doctor. Use of doping substances is related to many negative short- and long-term health outcomes for the individual. The web-survey and the interview study shed light on the consequences police officers think doping have in the society as it is involved in many other types of crime. The studies also conclude that  much can be done to improve the doping-related work by the Police.

Improved doping awareness among police officers

Gyms and other training facilities are arenas where doping is used by recreational athletes. The STAD unit at the Karolinska Institutet has previously developed a doping-preventive program, 100% Pure Hard Training (PHT), in co-production with stakeholders. STAD is responsible for the national coordination and dissemination of 100% PHT. The program components are: collaboration between stakeholders including the Police and gyms/training facilities, training of key stakeholders such as gym managers and staff as well as police officers, policy work and improved enforcement, and certification of gyms and training facilities.

The Police has a central role in the doping-preventive work at gyms and training facilities; however, our results show that there is a need to increase the doping-related knowledge among officers. In 2021, STAD and the Police Authority co-produced a half-day digital training for police officers. The training includes information about doping and related problems, how to collaborate with gyms, how to plan and conduct controls at gyms, and how to make visible in the media the Police Authority’s doping work. So far, more than 700 police officers throughout Sweden have been trained and according to the Police, there has been an increase in the number of controls, resulting in a number of doping-related convictions as well as drug and weapon seizures. The work with 100% PHT and the police training will continue.


The article is written by

Tobias Elgán, researcher at STAD

Pia Kvillemo, researcher at STAD and

Johanna Gripenberg, researcher and director of STAD

on the request of PopNAD