(MENAFN - The Peninsula) WADA Director General David Howman (pictured) has warned that doping is no longer an issue confined within elite sporting circles but has permeated to other areas of society.
Addressing delegates here at the opening day of the two-day symposium Anti-Doping Sports Integrity and Public Health, Howman said: "The use of drugs in sports is a public health issue. There are steroids in our gyms and in our schools and the criminal underworld is fully involved."
Howman said there was a desperate need to raise awareness about doping.
He told the gathering - organised by Anti-Doping Lab Qatar (ADLQ) - that educating the young athletes about the risks of doping and its harmful affects was one way forward in battle against drugs use.
"The idea will be to keep things simple and the foremost will be to lay special emphasis on educating our youth on the values and integrity of sports," Howman, took over as Director General of WADA in August 2003, said.
"Basically, we are in a situation where there is greed and those around the athlete, the entourage, want to make money at the cost of the sportsman and the sport. Hence it is our job to ensure the rest of society gets involved," added Howman. The Kiwi practiced as a barrister specializing in Sports Law, before joining WADA.
The criminal underworld controls "a significant proportion" of world sport, including the distribution of doping substances, the anti-doping leader said.
"Sport has witnessed tremendous growth in the past ten to 15 years and this has brought unwanted people in sport only keen on exploiting the situation and assisting in cheating," the former New Zealand junior tennis player.
Howman said there are cases of amateur athletes doping in recreational sports events and young people taking steroids in a bid to look good is on the increase.
"In the public health area, there is internationally often very little regulation over 'kitchen laboratories', minimum scrutiny and control of imported raw materials, and therefore not much attention to the growing steroid use. It is almost as if there is an acceptance of the burgeoning use along with the increase in drugs that provide the 'fountain of youth' and are prescribed regularly by wellness clinics," Howman said.
Howman, a father to five children and five grandchildren, lamented the trafficking of prohibited substances by the criminal world and an unregulated supply of non-sanitized drugs through the internet.
"Peptides, growth hormones, testosterone are becoming more common place and who is noticing, yet alone regulating?," he asked.
Howman said there is an overall challenge to the values of sport and its integrity through allied activities such as spot and match-fixing, bribery and corruption.
"Spot fixing, match-fixing, bribery and corruption are some matters which really do not fall under our express mandate of elite sport, but evidence of all have come to our attention, and all provide significant issues for society in general," Howman said.