‘It was my thought … he made it a reality’: Normalization and responsibility in athletes’ accounts of performance enhancing drug use

‘It was my thought … he made it a reality’ : Normalization and responsibility in athletes’ accounts of performance enhancing drug use / Evdokia Pappa, Eileen Kennedy. - (International Review for the Sociology of Sport 48 (2013) 3 (1 June); p. 277-294)

  • DOI: 10.1177/1012690212442116


Despite the widespread interest in athletes’ use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in track and field, the voices of the athletes who use banned substances have seldom been heard. Interviews with competitive athletes were conducted to explore their relationship to doping. Two themes emerged from the interviews. Firstly, the athletes presented doping as a normalized part of competitive sport, inevitably involving the participation of coaching staff. Secondly, and in contrast to the first theme, athletes maintained that they alone were responsible for the decision to use PEDs. The study supports the ‘networked athlete’ explanation of PED use, while highlighting the individualist explanation of doping offered by the athletes themselves. Foucault’s concept of governmentality is used to explain this contradiction, by suggesting that athletes’ internalization of responsibility for doping is part of the art of governing competitive sport.

Original document


Research / Study
30 April 2012
Kennedy, Eileen
Pappa, Evdokia
United Kingdom
Athletics (WA) - World Athletics
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Brunel University London
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Scientific article
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Pdf file
Date generated
7 September 2020
Date of last modification
8 October 2020
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