Blog: Helping athletes in times of need

13 June 2012

Athletes give their blood, sweat and tears in training and competition, pushing their bodies to the edge; constantly striving to achieve the very best they can in their chosen sport. Given their level of dedication, ASADA recognises that athletes facing a doping violation can find it difficult dealing with emotions such as devastation, hopelessness and anger.  Extra support is critical during these stressful times and having someone to turn to outside of their immediate support group is often invaluable in maintaining mental health.

ASADA has recognised this need and was the first anti-doping organisation in the world to launch a counselling initiative for both athletes and support personnel facing a possible doping violation. Athletes caught up in the desire to win may not always clearly foresee the repercussions of their actions.  Deciding to use prohibited substances will damage your career, reputation and future plans. You may also suffer from anxiety, stress, depression and even suicidal thoughts.

We offer every person who has been notified of a possible anti-doping rule violation free access to an independent and confidential counselling service with qualified professionals. The counselling is provided through a dedicated team of experienced psychologists at Davidson Trahaire Corpsych (DTC). The organisation provides wellbeing and performance services to more than 2000 private, public and not-for-profit clients.

Kate Price, a senior consultant at Davidson Trahaire Corpsych, said even routine testing can set off a range of responses for athletes.

Ms Price said, ‘It is not unusual to feel isolated and confronted by feelings of anger, embarrassment, guilt or betrayal. In some cases their identity as an athlete can seem to be under attack.’

The service provides athletes with access to a psychologist with a minimum of five years’ experience. During counselling sessions an athlete can talk about their reaction to the violation and any issues they might be facing in a completely trusting and supportive environment. It may take one or more sessions to develop practical solutions and provide the athlete with strategies to manage their emotional wellbeing. These counselling sessions can be conducted over the phone or face to face, with Davidson Trahaire Corpsych offices located all over Australia, including regional areas.  

Ms Price said, ’DTC’s practical, solution-focussed approach to these issues is similar to working with a coach and many athletes find that reassuring and familiar.’

At ASADA we believe this innovative approach is an important step forward in ensuring the welfare of athletes and support personnel. While many athletes and sporting groups have existing support structures in place, we believe this service will be an additional safeguard.

ASADA has also trained its staff on the early warning signs of anxiety, stress and depression. This is particularly relevant to those involved in the athlete results management process. By increasing the knowledge of our staff, we can help identify athletes who would benefit from this excellent, potentially life-saving, service.