Rebecca Evans, the UK Minister for Social Services and Public Health, has spoken about a culture of image and performance enhancing drug (IPED) misuse that is threatening to damage the health of a generation.
Evans was addressing a symposium at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff that is bringing together key partners from the worlds of Government, sport, and law enforcement committed to tackling the issue. Evans remarked the use of image and performance enhancing drugs is a growing problem, particularly in areas of South Wales.
A big majority of IPED users are young men seeking to improve body image or to enhance performance while participating in sport. Statistics reveal that people who primarily use image and performance enhancing drugs make-up 48.8 percent of people regularly accessing Needle and Syringe Programs in Wales, 96.1 percent of whom are male.
Evans, speaking ahead of the symposium, remarked that the use of IPEDs is not just a problem in sport and added it is a wider societal issue. The UK Minister for Social Services and Public Health also commented that there are a worrying number of young people, especially men, purchasing and taking illicit substances for image reasons and some then participating in community sport. Evans also remarked that we must reverse this culture of IPED use if we are to protect a generation of young people from the serious side effects they can cause and also commented that working in strong partnership with third sector, health, local government and sporting agencies, we can build on the good work already underway and tackle this issue head on.
Josie Smith, Head of Substance Misuse in Public Health Wales remarked we over the last two decades have become aware of increasing numbers of people using IPEDs across a wide demographic. Smith commented that changing culture and increasing emphasis on male physique, as well as availability of anabolic steroids, growth hormone, and new peptides have led to substantial increases both in use but also potentially in perceived pressure to use these drugs. The Head of Substance Misuse in Public Health Wales also said it is vital that we ensure three things: that people are well informed and can access accurate information; that no one feels pressure to use IPEDs in order to look a certain way or improve performance; and that anyone using or considering IPED use is able to access and engage with health and other services to address concerns and make informed choices.
UK Anti-Doping Chief Executive Nicole Sapstead said her organization continues to be concerned about the number of young people who are turning to steroids for performance or cosmetic enhancement. Sapstead added not only is it a serious issue for sport but it is becoming a serious issue for our society and a generation of young people.
Brian Davies, Director of Elite Sport at Sport Wales, commented these are key issues for us because at the heart of sport is fair competition, where people know their responsibilities and compete clean from performance enhancing drugs.
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