What role do parents of young athletes play in preventing doping in sport? This is the question that Dr. Terri Byers and Dr. Gabriela Tymowski-Gionet of the University of New Brunswick’s faculty of kinesiology have teamed up to answer.

As part of the research project, Drs. Byers and Tymowski-Gionet are searching for an inside perspective on how parents may influence a drug-free environment.

This study is part an international project, with researchers from the United Kingdom, Luxembourg and Canada participating. All three are investigating the challenges of doping prevention in sport and trying to determine how parents might be involved in promoting drug-free sport.

“Doping is a global problem in sport right now. Formal sanctions and mechanisms to control the problem are largely ineffective and reactive,” says Dr. Tymowski-Gionet. “In our study, we are trying to understand how parents support can help influence young people in a positive way.”

“Sport organizations have been relentlessly trying to address the problem of doping in sport, but it appears that the problem may never fully go away and we need to develop innovative solutions to managing the issue,” says Dr. Byers.

This is the first qualitative study of its kind to ask parents of competitive athletes these questions. Part of the research process involves an interview, either over the phone or in-person with the researchers. Dr. Tymowski-Gionet and Dr. Byers are looking to discuss some of the challenges and barriers that parents face when speaking to their children about anti-doping, and how parents might nurture their children to embrace clean, doping-free sport.

Parents of young athletes between the ages of 12 and 17 who are competing in swimming, track and field (athletics), football, hockey, soccer and equestrian sports at the national are invited to participate, and interested parents may contact the researchers for more information at terri.byers@unb.ca or tymowski@unb.ca.

“By speaking to parents, both moms and dads, we will gain insight into how we can better support them to ensure the safety of young girls and boys in their elite athlete training. This is also important as these athletes are likely to be the future of our sport governance system which is responsible for ensuring the integrity of sport,” says Dr. Byers.

Media contact: Kathleen McLaughlin