Drug use and abuse and the risk of adverse events in soccer players: results from a survey in Italian second league players

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Authors Information

1Department of Translational Medical Sciences, Center for Basic and Clinical Immunology Research (CISI), University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy
2WAO Center of Excellence
3College of Medical and Dental Sciences, Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom
4Anti-doping and Health Care Committee of "Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio", Rome, Italy


Published online: 07 January 2021
Accepted: 10 July 2020
Received: 29 April 2020


Objective. Drug use in athletes has been frequently investigated in the last three decades, especially regarding its misuse for doping. However, little is known about the use of permitted drugs for medical purposes and less studies have investigated the relationship between adverse drugs reactions (ADRs) and sports. Methods. An observational cross-sectional investigation analyzing a group of second league soccer players (the second-highest division in Italy) was performed. Anamnestic and physical examinations as well as a validated questionnaire (AQUA©) were performed in a group of 378 Italian second league soccer players. Results. Most players (91.8%) reported the use of NSAIDs in the previous year, and one third of them were regular users. Analgesics were used in 64% of the players, while 52.1% had taken antibiotics in the previous year. 29.20% of players used intraarticular treatments in the previous year. In 7,4% of players, an ADRs was reported: 3,47% reacted to NSAIDs, 2,6% to antibiotics, 1,05% to analgesics and 1 of them to supplements. For intra-articular injections, only 2 players experienced ADRs. One quarter of players experienced reactions as urticaria-angioedema syndrome or more severe conditions as bronchospasm or anaphylaxis. Conclusions. This study shows that drug misuse/abuse in soccer is a real matter of debate, especially with regards to NSAIDs, exposing athletes to predictable and/or unpredictable risks for their health.

Drug abuse; adverse events; soccer players; AQUA©; sport; anaphylaxis;urticaria-angioedema; NSAIDs.

Table of Content: Vol. 53 (No. 1) 2021 January

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