Tracking the Development of Attitudes to Doping: a longitudinal study of young elite athletes

Engelberg, E. Terry, Moston, Stephen, and Skinner, James (2014) Tracking the Development of Attitudes to Doping: a longitudinal study of young elite athletes. Report. University of Canberra and Griffith University.

[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only



Despite widespread recognition that prevention, rather than detection, remains the best strategy for eliminating drug use in sport, anti-doping research has typically studied only elite adult athletes. The importance of studying young athletes has been highlighted by the frequency with which drug use in young athletes has been observed. There is evidence suggesting that athletes as young as 12 years of age use performance enhancing drugs, and that such use has increased in the past decade. Research has also suggested that individual characteristics of athletes (such as level of moral development) and the social environment are possibly important predictors of both usage of, and attitudes towards, performance enhancing drugs.

If anti-doping campaigners can identify dopers before they engage in such behaviour, then it may be possible to prevent future misconduct. However, one of the biggest challenges for anti-doping administrators is how to deter young athletes from doping. Whilst anti-doping interventions should be targeted at all young athletes, it is possible that the limited resources given to such efforts, could be more effectively utilised if those athletes most at risk of doping could be identified and anti-doping efforts tailored to such individuals.

It has been argued that previous research on attitudes towards drugs in sport has typically suffered from a number of recurring methodological and theoretical limitations that have hindered the integration of this growing body of work. One of the most significant problems is that research has typically employed cross-sectional designs, which hinders efforts to understand the causative relationship between variables, such as personal characteristics and anti-doping attitudes.

The current study utilises a cohort-sequential method (also called a longitudinal-sequential design). In this design each participant completed a questionnaire three times (once each in 2011, 2012 and 2013). A key advantage of this design over a cross-sectional design is that changes in attitudes and behaviours can be tracked within individuals, rather than inferring change between groups.

The study aims to assess the incidence of PED use in a large sample of young elite athletes (aged 12 to 17 years at the commencement of the study) and to identify the antecedent demographic and psychological characteristics that underpin such behaviour. For the purposes of this study 'elite athlete' means an athlete participating and competing at regional level or above (including state level, national and international level)

The project represents a significant methodological advancement in Australian research on anti-doping. Longitudinal research is often critical to understanding the trajectories of individual life histories and the dynamic processes that underlie such change. As anti-doping efforts inevitably intensify in the coming years, a need for consistent data from different points in time will become increasingly important in showing the efficacy of anti-doping initiatives.

There were 697 participants in wave 1, 606 were retained for wave 2, and 538 for wave 3, giving an overall retention rate of 77.2%. A total of 938 unique participants were included in the study.

Item ID: 40315
Item Type: Report (Report)
Keywords: performance enhancement; doping; drugs in sport; young athletes; attitudes
Related URLs:
Additional Information:

Final Report to Funding Body: Australian Government, Department of Health: Anti-doping Research Program (ADRP)

Funders: Australian Government, Department of Health
Projects and Grants: Anti-doping Research Program
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2015 23:49
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1604 Human Geography > 160402 Recreation, Leisure and Tourism Geography @ 10%
15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1504 Commercial Services > 150404 Sport and Leisure Management @ 30%
17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170114 Sport and Exercise Psychology @ 60%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950102 Organised Sports @ 90%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950103 Recreation @ 10%
Downloads: Total: 3
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page