WADA launches digital campaign highlighting benefits of training naturally and pitfalls of steroids
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has launched a new social media campaign under the tagline ‘Natural Is Enough’ inviting young people across Europe to join the ‘natural training movement’ by shunning the use of anabolic steroids.
WADA President Witold Bańka notes “Supported by a grant from the European Union, WADA’s #NaturalIsEnough campaign aims to raise awareness of the growing use of anabolic steroids and their threat to health. They are not only a threat to the integrity of elite sport that WADA regulates, they also represent a threat to public health and society at large.
“Tragically, young people in gyms are increasingly taking anabolic steroids in a bid to look good; and, there is an unscrupulous criminal underworld feeding the demand, largely by trafficking unregulated and unsafe supply via the internet. We hope that WADA’s #NaturalIsEnough campaign will encourage young people to dedicate themselves to training naturally and to living a healthy lifestyle, devoid of anabolic steroids.”
To do so, WADA has activated the following team of natural fitness influencers to spread the word on social media:
- Carlos Alix in Spain (@carlosalix)
- Lucy Davis in the UK (@lucydavis_fit)
- Julian Franklin in Germany (@the.franklin)
- Oyinda Okunowo in the UK (@oyinda_fitness)
- Lucy Reeves in the UK (@lucy_xfit)
- Ollie Rhoda in the UK (@ollierhoda)
- Alex Villani in France (@alexandrevillani)
One of the main causes of anabolic steroid use is the individual’s belief that they are not ‘enough’. Using unscripted personal anecdotes from their own lives, the team of influencers are alerting their followers to the benefits of training naturally and the pitfalls of turning to steroids, which include everything from acne and hair loss to decreased sex drive and heart problems.
Influencer @lucydavis_fit shares “Fitness influencers who use steroids in secret are setting unreal expectations for their followers. Today’s culture places pressure on young people to look bigger and win at all costs. I massively felt this as a young swimmer, and unfortunately a lot of young people will turn to steroids for a quick fix. One of the main causes of steroid abuse is an individual belief they are not enough, not big enough, not slim enough, not strong enough, not fast enough. But steroids can affect your physical and your mental health.”
WADA and its team of influencers are encouraging people everywhere to join the natural training movement by:
- sharing WADA content using the hashtag #NaturalisEnough;
- sharing their own natural training photos, videos and stories and using the hashtag #NaturalisEnough; and
- checking out our dedicated #NaturalisEnough web page, where they can learn more about the issue and get to know our influencers and hear their messages.
Influencer @ollierhoda adds “We live in a society obsessed with unrealistic body standards promoted through social media. Remember, the best physiques you see are rare; achieved through a pump, the best lighting, the best angle, and numerous photos. I felt the pressure as a skinny and insecure lad, but chose to train naturally. I don’t want to cheat myself, my followers and most importantly my health. Too many people turn to steroids without taking the negative side effects into account.”
Background on Anabolic Steroid Use
While Europe is short on information on the scale of doping outside professional sport, the use of anabolic steroids is on the rise globally. Worryingly, they are being used at ever younger ages, with black market products increasingly finding their way into schools and local gyms. In January 2018, the Guardian newspaper reported that some experts believe there to be close to one million regular UK steroid users.
While the UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD) stated in its ‘2020 Status Report on Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs’ that males between the ages of 20 and 24 were found to be the main users of steroids, the problem affects most age groups and demographics. The Report added that 34% of the gym-goers surveyed in one study said they were aware of image and performance enhancing drug use in their gym or club, demonstrating that the problem is moving beyond the sporting environment.
Over half of those who admitted to steroid use said they did so for cosmetic reasons, largely to mimic the beach-body images and other unrealistic ideals disseminated in popular culture via social media, TV, and other outlets. Others admitted using steroids to enhance their sport performance or to increase strength for the purposes of non-competitive bodybuilding.
Legal Disclaimers of WADA and the EU
WADA has partnered with the abovementioned influencers exclusively as part of its ‘Natural is Enough’ campaign, which is part of a broader European Union-funded project aimed at expanding the intelligence and investigative capabilities of Anti-Doping Organizations across the continent. It should be noted that WADA’s association is by no means an endorsement of any product, brand or service promoted by the influencers in question. We would particularly highlight the fact that WADA does not endorse or certify any supplement products; and that, any claim to that effect would be inaccurate.
This project is co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are, however, those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency, the granting authority. Neither the European Union nor the European Education and Culture Executive Agency can be held responsible for them.
12th September 2020 - Death of former NSW Premier and WADA President John Fahey
4th September 2020 - Drug Free Sport New Zealand calls for further change from WADA
20th May 2013 - Australian sport doping changes influencing WADA
18th February 2013 - IOC conference to discuss the future of WADA
19th January 2013 - ‘Serial cheat’ Armstrong’s doping admissions questioned by WADA President Fahey