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Exploring the progressive use of performance enhancing substances by high-performance athletes

journal contribution
posted on 14.01.2020 by Aaron Smith, Constantino Stavros
Background: Given implications associated with the use of performance-enhancing substances (PESs), stakeholders must remain informed about usage precipitants and anticipate conditions signaling athlete vulnerability to hazardous exposures. Objectives: To gain deeper qualitative insight into high-level athlete PES usage; explore the variables leading them to escalate their PES use regimens; reveal PES experiences during their careers and, unlike other studies, not to focus exclusively on “doping” as measured by the use of WADA-banned substances. Methods: A macro life course–based framework from which the data could emerge through a thematic coding analysis was utilized. Sixteen narrative life course histories of recently retired high-performance athletes report on the factors impelling their escalation in PES use, including for some, the first use of banned PES. Results: Informant reports, thematically coded, reveal performance maximization urgency to be a central factor in escalating PES use, driven by four variables: Requirements, Opportunities, Influencers and Outcomes. These variables each comprise two key components that stimulate an urgency ecosystem affecting an athlete’s proximity to an escalation threshold. Conclusions/Importance: Such a comprehensive investigation of PES use precipitants has not previously been undertaken. Advances in PES use were instantiated by a substantive, sometimes radical and often sudden increase in urgency to improve performance related to output requirements, specific demands, knowledge and access, timing windows, the competitive landscape, loyalty to coaches, efficiency expectations and likelihood of detection. This study informs incremental models of doping, the use of which is encouraged in order to analyze life course narratives to better understand athlete behaviors.

History

School

  • Loughborough University London

Published in

Substance Use & Misuse

Volume

55

Issue

6

Pages

914-927

Publisher

Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Publisher statement

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Substance Use & Misuse on 9 January 2020, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/10826084.2019.1711412.

Publication date

2020-01-09

Copyright date

2020

ISSN

1082-6084

eISSN

1532-2491

Language

en

Depositor

Prof Aaron Smith. Deposit date: 14 January 2020

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