Player and athlete attitudes to drugs in Australian sport: implications for policy development

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Smith, Aaron C. T and Stewart, Bob (2010) Player and athlete attitudes to drugs in Australian sport: implications for policy development. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics , 2 (1). pp. 65-84. ISSN 1940-6940 (print) 1940-6959 (online)


This article reports on 12 case histories with a view to 1) uncovering the attitudes of players and athletes to drugs in sport, and 2) exploring the implications of these attitudes for the formulation of effective anti-doping policy. The theoretical approach of the research was informed by Zinberg's (198459. Zinberg , N. 1984 . Drug, set, and setting: the basis for controlled intoxicant use , New Haven, CT : Yale University Press . View all references) model which assumes that the relationship between the drug, individual characteristics and context are pivotal to choices about drug use. A theoretical sampling frame was derived using two key discriminators based on their empirical prevalence as important variables: i) the level of a sport's commercial involvement, and ii) a sport's masculine values as determined by aggressiveness, contact and propensity for risk-taking. The additional ‘discovered’ sample criterion ‘performance level’ was subsequently included based on emergent data. A narrative-based case-history was utilized as the analytical method employing Gee's (198615. Gee , J. 1986 . Units in the production of narrative discourse . Discourse processes , 9 ( 4 ) : 391 – 422 . [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®], [CSA] View all references) coding approach. Results suggested that attitudes are contingent upon first, the legality of the substance, second, its performance impact, and finally, its social impact. If a substance is not illegal, provides performance support, expedites recovery, or makes the user feel better, then it is considered legitimate. Unlike previous analysis, these results demonstrate that substance use in sport is neither a matter of linear and logical decision-making nor one of fundamental morality for players and athletes. The results suggest that drug-management policies which are underpinned by punitive models of moral certitude and deterrence do not match with prevailing attitudes, and are therefore unlikely to be successful in eradicating drug use from sport in the future.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1080/19406941003634040
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science
Historical > SEO Classification > 9501 Arts and Leisure
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL)
Keywords ResPubID20529, anti-doping policy, attitudes, drugs, performance enhancing, WADA
Citations in Scopus 15 - View on Scopus
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