Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist June 2013 Contents 32 Australian Pharmacist June 2013 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
Combating drugs in sport
Over and above advising and counselling
patients, pharmacists have the opportunity
to provide input into combating drugs
in sport by forming relationships with
sporting clubs and groups.
supports the view
that athletes need
to be advised
can do a lot more
than is currently
'Athletes are not very medically or health
literate,' he said.
'So we need to ask how we, as a profession,
can help. The first thing is to become more
involved with sport.
'For instance, I believe I am the only
pharmacist member of Sports Medicine
Australia and there should be a lot more
pharmacists who become members, and
they should be actively involved.'
Professor McLachlan said some pharmacies
formed relationships with sports clubs
and these provided great opportunities
to promote positive health messages and
'But with these opportunities come great
responsibilities to know what are the
relevant anti-doping regulations relevant to
that code,' he said.
'Pharmacists being involved in sport
provide great public health message
'It's very hard to know what is prohibited
in which sport and the list changes every
year. For instance, in the Sydney Olympics
12-year-old Romanian gymnast Andrea
Răducan won a gold medal but had that
taken off her because it was found she has
pseudoephedrine in her system, The team
doctor had given her a cold and flu tablet
because she was unwell and the biggest
mistake she made was to trust her team
doctor. It's an extreme example of where a
healthcare professional has really let down
an athlete but the reality is healthcare
professionals have great responsibilities.
'It is a complicated area. For instance,
most people focus on testing positive
but there are seven other ways you can
be prohibited and many of these many
'Australia uses a risk-based profile system
and targets these sports or people who
meet certain risk profiles.
'For instance a person returning from injury,
a person towards the end of their career,
a person in the pre-elite squad looking to
make the elite squad and also a person at
the back of the squad who all of a sudden
'These are all areas targeted and the testing
is designed to act as a deterrent to stop
people using them and doing harm to
themselves. It's a bit like the drink-driving
scenario. Visibility is the big deterrent and
education is a critical element.'
Drugs in sport course for students
One question that arises is whether
pharmacy schools should begin introducing
special drugs in sport courses for students.
Nick Shaw, Director of Council of Pharmacy
Schools of Australia and New Zealand, says
pharmacists are clearly educated to provide
advice on drugs and their use to people in
the community, including sports people.
'Pharmacists have the ability to provide this
information and expertise as part of their
therapeutic knowledge,' he said.
'It's very hard for pharmacists to keep up
with changes to the prohibited substances
list, and changes in dosages or when
a substance is prohibited such as in
competition but not out of competition.
'The issue of having sports medicine
courses in pharmacy schools is a lot wider
than drugs in sport. Sports medicine
is a lot more than medicines in sport.
It involves training, diet and a wide
range of bio-mechanical kinesiology
rather than just the effects of drugs and
Professor Ken Fitch says pharmacists'
knowledge of drugs is excellent and
they are the medicines experts so their
knowledge may at times be better than
many of the people prescribing the drugs.
'So I consider pharmacists do have a
greater role to play in helping athletes
become aware of prohibited substances,
either as medicines or in supplements,'
Professor Fitch said.
'But pharmacists who want to help with
drugs in sport issues must keep their drugs
in sport knowledge current because the
prohibited list changes every year. You have
to keep up to date. I would be delighted to
see more pharmacists involved in sport but
they have to be fully involved, not partially
involved. It's not something where you can
say, "Oh I know a bit about it". It's something
you either know about or you don't
He said people had to be extremely careful
'This is where pharmacists come in
because we really have to ask how valuable
supplements are. Are the benefits more
perceived than real? Pharmacists can provide
advice to athletes about this,' Professor
A spokesperson for
the Minister for Sport,
Senator Kate Lundy,
when asked if there
was a greater role for
pharmacists to play
in helping to combat
drugs in sport, told
Australian Pharmacist: 'We are always keen
for professionals who come into contact with
sports people to assist in whatever way they
can to help protect the integrity of sport. It's
important for athletes to compete on a level
playing field and it's also important for the
mums and dads and future generations of
kids who want to become involved in sport to
do so knowing that the sport they choose is
clean and embraces an anti-doping culture.'
The spokesperson said the Minister would
be disappointed if the attitude among some
pharmacists was that if the product was not
illegal they would dispense it, even knowing
it could be used by a customer who was
'But we are confident that the vast majority of
pharmacists uphold the ethical practice that
we have come to expect and receive from the
profession,' the spokesperson said.
Asked if pharmacists should try to make
their athlete customers more aware of risks
associated with taking some drugs, the
spokesperson said: 'The vast majority of
pharmacists already do a great job of advising
customers on health-related issues. However,
it would be unreasonable to expect all
pharmacists to have a perfect knowledge on
what substances are banned for athletes. The
best advice for athletes is always to consult
specialist advice if they are unsure. ASADA's
Check Your Substances website and hotline is
there to help and provide that expert advice.'
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