Clean Olympians? Doping and anti-doping : The views of talented young British athletes / Andrew Bloodworth, Michael McNamee. - (International Journal of Drug Policy 21 (2010) 4 (July); p. 276-282)
- PMID: 20056401
- DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2009.11.009
Background: Review articles suggest a small but significant proportion (between 3 and 12%) of male adolescents have used anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) at some point (Yesalis and Bahrke, 2000; Calfee and Fadale, 2006). In sport, the use of prohibited substances or processes to enhance performance, collectively referred to as 'doping', is banned by both sports' National and International Governing Bodies, and by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) who run an extensive testing programme and educational initiatives designed to foster anti-doping attitudes.
Method: A total of 40 talented male and female athletes (mean average age 19.6 years) from 13 different sports attended 12 focus groups held over the UK intended to investigate athletes' attitudes toward doping. Focus group transcriptions were analysed and coded with the use of QSR NVivo 8.
Results: Athletes in general did not report a significant national doping problem in their sport, but exhibited sporting xenophobia with regard to both doping practices and the stringency of testing procedures outside of the UK. Athletes often viewed doping as 'unnatural' and considered the shame associated with doping to be a significant deterrent. Athletes perceived no external pressure to use performance enhancing drugs. In response to hypothetical questions, however, various factors were acknowledged as potential 'pressure' points: most notably injury recovery and the economic pressures of elite sport. Finally, a significant minority of athletes entertained the possibility of taking a banned hypothetical performance enhancing drug under conditions of guaranteed success and undetectability.
Conclusions: The athletes in this study generally embraced those values promoted in anti-doping educational programmes, although there were some notable exceptions. That the social emotion of shame was considered a significant deterrent suggests anti-doping efforts that cultivate a shared sense of responsibility to remain 'clean' and emphasise the social sanctions associated with being deemed a 'drugs cheat', resonate with this atypical social group.