Doping in sport: do parents matter?

K. Erickson, S. H. Backhouse, D. Carless

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Athletes exist and function in an environment of complex relationships; however, little is known about the influence of specific relationships for athletes’ attitudes, experiences and behaviors toward doping in sport. Among adolescent and young adult athlete populations, parents and coaches have been highlighted as particularly influential, but when and how they influence athletes in this context is unknown. Therefore, this study used a qualitative methodology to explore the role of significant others in this domain. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 14 British (M = 8) track and field student-athletes. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the transcripts. Prominently, the parent–athlete relationship influenced athletes’ lives in and beyond sport. Parents shape(d) athletes’ personal morals by establishing their initial sense of right and wrong. In turn, this appears to guide athletes’ 1 and behaviors even after leaving the family home. Additionally, parents impacted the trajectory of participants’ athletic careers and their general approach toward sport. Ensuing from this, participants exhibit a desire to give back to their parents. Cumulatively, the parent–athlete relationship (in)directly deters athletes from doping. Given the enduring significance of the parent–athlete relationship for shaping athletes’ attitudes, experiences and behaviors toward doping, parents should be prioritized with targeted antidoping education. Specifically, parents should be provided with doping knowledge (e.g., risks, warning signs, consequences) and then equipped and empowered to transmit this information to athletes. Such an approach has the potential to simultaneously increase the engagement of parents and athletes in antidoping efforts and education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-128
Number of pages14
JournalSport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date19 Jan 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


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