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University of Copenhagen
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Why athletes can’t pee in the jar

Researchers get DKK 530,000 to find out why sportsmen can't urinate during drug tests

Positive doping test results and drug confessions are often in the media spotlight.

Now, a University of Copenhagen researcher has received a half million kroner grant to investigate one of the lesser known mysteries of the doping test: Why can it take athletes hours and hours to pee in a jar?

Anne-Marie Elbe, Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences and her colleagues from the University of Potsdam, Germany have received DKK 530,000 from the German Federal Institute for Sport Science for two sports psychological anti-doping projects.

Stage fright

The goal of the first project, The urine-marker method as an intervention tool for psychogenic urination problems during doping controls , is to find out why this is a problem.

In many doping controls, the athletes want to pee, but it takes hours before they can actually urinate.

The hypothesis is that this is not a medical issue, but a psychological problem, as athletes suffer from ‘stage-fright’, finding it hard to pee in the presence of others.

Clinical or social?

These problems can lead to major interruptions in the affected athlete’s training programmes as well as hold-ups after competitions.

The goal of this project is to shed more light on the urination problems of athletes during doping controls, and to evaluate the effectiveness of a unique intervention program, the urine marker method.

The team will investigate whether it is a clinical disorder or if social factors have an influence.

A second project is to develop a curriculum for coaches to help teach ethics in sports.