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Riding High: Success in Sports and the Rise of Doping Cultures


  • Holger Strulik


This article develops a socio-economic model that analyzes the doping decision of professional athletes. In their decision to use performance enhancing drugs athletes do not only evaluate the costs and benefits (in terms of potential rank improvement). They also take into account peer-group approval of using drugs. Peer-group approval is modelled as a lagged endogenous variable that depends on the share of drug using athletes in the history of a sport. This way, the model can explain multiple equilibria as "doping cultures". Besides the comparative statics of the equilibrium (how can a doping culture be eliminated?) the article also investigates how the doping decision is affected by standards set by the respective leader in a sport, e.g. Olympic qualification marks, and by the taste of victory, i.e. the disproportionate public veneration of winners.
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Suggested Citation

  • Holger Strulik, 2012. "Riding High: Success in Sports and the Rise of Doping Cultures," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(2), pages 539-574, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:scandj:v:114:y:2012:i:2:p:539-574 DOI: j.1467-9442.2012.01698.x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jörgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35.
    2. Thomas J. Nechyba, 2001. "Social Approval, Values, and AFDC: A Reexamination of the Illegitimacy Debate," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 637-666, June.
    3. Mark Duggan & Steven D. Levitt, 2002. "Winning Isn't Everything: Corruption in Sumo Wrestling," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1594-1605, December.
    4. Krakel, Matthias, 2007. "Doping and cheating in contest-like situations," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 988-1006, December.
    5. Anandi Mani & Charles H. Mullin, 2004. "Choosing the Right Pond: Social Approval and Occupational Choice," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(4), pages 835-862, October.
    6. repec:hhs:iuiwop:476 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Mueller, 2013. "The Doping Threshold in Sport Contests," Working papers 2013/05, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    2. Volker Robeck, 2014. "Professional Cycling and the Fight against Doping," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201456, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    3. Evelyn Korn & Volker Robeck, 2013. "The role of sports physicians in doping: a note on incentives," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201317, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    4. Strulik, Holger, 2014. "A mass phenomenon: The social evolution of obesity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 113-125.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism
    • M50 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - General


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