Technische Universität München

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ATLAS and ATHENA are two gender specific drug prevention and health promotion programs designed to reduce the abuse of anabolic agents and steroids. Male athletes are addressed by the Athletes Training & Learning to Avoid Steroids (ATLAS) program. In contrast, ATHENA is the program introduced for female athletes. The Athletes Targeting Healthy Exercise and Nutrition Alternatives (ATHENA) program emphasizes the role of young women in sports, disordered eating behaviors and body shaping drug use. Consequently the lessons within the ATLAS and ATHENA programs are based on healthy sports nutrition and strength-training as alternatives to the use of alcohol, and illicit performance-enhancing drugs. Both programs are peer-led programs which are interactive, engaging and easy to implement by coaches during the sports season.


The course of the ATLAS and ATHENA program is guided by the coach and selected student athletes. It is split into 10 sessions for ATLAS and 8 sessions for ATHENA each lasting 45 minutes. Coaches facilitate the program, keep athletes on task, and introduce and wrap-up student-guided activities. Squad leaders provide a majority of the instruction for their small group of teammates. Sessions include role-plays, student-created campaigns or public service announcements and instructional, interactive games. Athletes practice goal setting and self-monitoring of nutritional behaviors. Students learn attitudes and skills that will help them to pick healthy choices in sports and throughout their lives.


Both programs are scientifically proven and showed several important and significant long-term effects so far. Participants of the ATLAS program showed a decrease in alcohol and drug use, a reduced steroid use, a reduced supplement use, fewer “drink and drive” occurrences, improved nutrition and exercise practices, students believed they were better athletes and a greater ability to refuse drugs.
Female athletes taking part in the ATHENA program showed a reduced use of diet pills, less use of steroids, amphetamines and sport supplements, an improved nutrition, less riding in a car with a drunken driver, less sexual activity, fewer injuries and less long term use of diet pills, alcohol and marijuana.


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