Contextual influences and athlete attitudes to drugs in sport Academic Article uri icon


  • 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.


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

publication date

  • August 2010