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Contextual influences and athlete attitudes to drugs in sport


  • Smith, Aaron C.T.
  • Stewart, Bob
  • Oliver-Bennetts, Sunny
  • McDonald, Sharyn
  • Ingerson, Lynley
  • Anderson, Alastair
  • Dickson, Geoff
  • Emery, Paul
  • Graetz, Fiona


This article reports on 11 narrative-based case histories which sought to: (1) uncover the attitudes of players and athletes to drugs in sport, and (2) explore contextual factors influencing the formation of those attitudes as informed by social ecology theory. Overall, participants viewed the use of banned performance-enhancing substances as cheating, 'hard' non-performance-enhancing recreational or illicit substances as unwise, legal non-performance-enhancing substances as acceptable, and legal performance-enhancing substances as essential. In short, attitudes were sometimes quite libertarian, and contingent upon first, the legality of the substance, and second, its performance impact. Results also indicated that athletes' attitudes about drugs were fundamentally shaped by sport's culture. Other significant factors included its commercial scale, closely identifiable others, early experiences and critical incidents of players and athletes, and their level of performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Smith, Aaron C.T. & Stewart, Bob & Oliver-Bennetts, Sunny & McDonald, Sharyn & Ingerson, Lynley & Anderson, Alastair & Dickson, Geoff & Emery, Paul & Graetz, Fiona, 2010. "Contextual influences and athlete attitudes to drugs in sport," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 181-197, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:spomar:v:13:y:2010:i:3:p:181-197

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Smith, Aaron C.T. & Shilbury, David, 2004. "Mapping Cultural Dimensions in Australian Sporting Organisations," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 133-165, November.
    2. Aghion,Philippe & Williamson,Jeffrey G., 1999. "Growth, Inequality, and Globalization," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521659109.
    3. Ajzen, Icek, 1991. "The theory of planned behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 179-211, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Engelberg, Terry & Moston, Stephen & Skinner, James, 2015. "The final frontier of anti-doping: A study of athletes who have committed doping violations," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 268-279.
    2. Stewart, Bob & Adair, Daryl & Smith, Aaron, 2011. "Drivers of illicit drug use regulation in Australian sport," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 237-245, August.
    3. Patterson, Laurie B. & Backhouse, Susan H. & Duffy, Patrick J., 2016. "Anti-doping education for coaches: Qualitative insights from national and international sporting and anti-doping organisations," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 35-47.
    4. Ziebarth, Nicolas R. & Wagner, Gert G., 2013. "Top?Down vs. Bottom?Up: The Long?Term Impact of Government Ideology and Personal Experience on Values," IZA Discussion Papers 7279, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Deepak Dhayanithy, 2013. "Patterns Of Ped2 Test Sanctions In Professional Sports – Baseline And Implications For Research," Working papers 122, Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode.


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