LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--An elephant will be sitting in the middle of America’s living room during the Olympic Games this year. According to a national survey by the Foundation for Global Sports Development, about half of U.S. adults (51 percent) say “knowing that athletes have been caught using performance-enhancing drugs in the past makes the Olympics less enjoyable,” with two-thirds who watch the Winter Olympic Games admitting they at least sometimes suspect athletes might be using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), or “doping.” Three-quarters of U.S. adults don’t believe an athlete when they say they aren’t using PEDs.
The “Fair Play in Sports” survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Foundation for Global Sports Development (GSD), a non-profit group advocating fair play, education, and the benefits of sports among youth around the world.
“Given the nature of sports today, athletes and coaches have unfortunately turned to PEDs as a way to find a competitive edge,” said Dr. Steven Ungerleider, an anti-doping expert and founding trustee of GSD. “Doping in sports needs to stop, but it’s going to require more than just testing. We need to educate athletes at a young age, reinforcing sportsmanship, fair play, and the consequences of using PEDs.”
One of the more eye-opening GSD survey findings is Americans’ belief that PEDs stack the Olympic Games in favor of the rich. More than seven out of 10 U.S. adults (73 percent) agree with the statement that PEDs “enable wealthier Olympic teams and athletes to ‘buy’ a better chance at a medal.”
Despite the accelerated testing, the majority of adults agree there needs to be more action taken to prevent the use of PEDs at the Olympics (88 percent) and in all professional sports (89 percent), with 61 percent agreeing that the use of PEDs is the most serious problem facing sports today. In fact, 52 percent of U.S. adults see doping as the greatest offense that can be done by an Olympic athlete or team. Over half (53 percent) of U.S. adults even say athletes who use PEDs “are basically just criminals.”
Other than more frequent drug testing (74 percent), many U.S. adults also supported “immediate one-year suspension of all athletes caught doping” (60 percent) and suing “athletes for breach of contract if discovered they are doping” (47 percent) as potential deterrents. One-quarter (25 percent) feel jail time would be effective.
“The saying, ‘Everyone's doing it,’ just doesn't hold water with me,” said Olympic Gold Medal swimmer Crissy Perham. Everyone is not doing it. I didn't do it. I know world class athletes who are not doing it. We need to keep saying it’s not okay and keep pushing until sports is clean.”
Sadly, most Americans seem resigned that doping is simply an ugly reality of sports today, with nearly 3 in 4 (72 percent) agreeing that “the use of PEDs will always be a part of professional sports.” And one in four adults (21 percent) saying Olympic athletes probably need to use PEDs just to be competitive today.
Interestingly, in the professional sports world, teams are not held responsible when one of their own is caught doping. However, when it comes to the Olympics, Americans think the shameful spotlight should be shared. About two-thirds (67 percent) say when an Olympian is caught taking PEDs, it reflects poorly on their entire county, with 30 percent believing the entire country’s team should be held accountable.
“In truth, it reflects poorly on everyone,” said David Ulich, executive board member of GSD. “Young athletes, especially, need to understand that doping doesn’t impact just one or two people, it impacts entire teams, schools, communities, even countries.”
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Global Sports Development from January 8-10, 2014 among 2,018 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Global Sports Development
Working closely with international sports federations, generous donors and committed athletes, The Foundation for Global Sports Development promotes sportsmanship, education, fair play and ethics among the world's youth. The Foundation gives special emphasis to groups and communities that are most in need or most underserved by current programs, including women, minorities and youth in areas where the risk of delinquency is particularly high. Visit www.globalsportsdevelopment.org or follow us on Twitter to learn more.
About Harris Interactive:
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client's research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us—and our clients—stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.