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The Peculiarities Of Anti-doping Education

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The key functions and development environments of sport are comprised of regard for the defeated, identifying the most capable and making sure and offering equal opportunity for all in the environment of justice, democracy, fair play and rules (Arvaniti, 2006). However, over the past years, doping scandals have been on the rise (“New Wada report shows rise in doping cases”, 2019), which is detrimental to essential functions and developing environment of sport. To curb the utilization of performance enhancing medications and techniques, anti-doping policy was initiated, which was earlier pointed to “detection-based deterrence activities” (Backhouse, Patterson, & McKenna, 2012). Nonetheless, now it recognizes the appropriateness of providing “long-term”, “value-based” education programmes (Backhouse et al., 2012). Despite the presence of organisations and governing bodies to provide anti-doping education, there are still poor outcomes due to lack of resources, poor communication, coordination and regulation among different levels of these bodies, and a negative perception of anti-doping efforts (Patterson, Backhouse & Duffy, 2016). This paper will discuss the issues at the level of organization that inhibit anti-doping education as well as discuss possible solutions that sport managers can apply to these issues.

According to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), a substance or a method used to improve performance will be considered an anti-doping rule violation if it meets any 2 of 3 criteria: 1. A potential to enhance performance; 2. A threat to harm health; 3. A violation of spirit of sport (as cited in Engelberg & Skinner, 2016). According to Schubert and Könecke (2015),both classical doping (use of illegal substances and practices) and financial doping (performance-oriented financial resources not earned, directly or indirectly, by a club through its sporting manoeuvres or drawing potential) can impact the four values of sport which are central to policies of anti-doping: athletes’ health, fairness and equal opportunity as sport-intrinsic principles, naturalness of sporting performances and exemplary functioning of sport and its athletes.

Sport management is the best suited academic discipline that can apply managerial theories and its correlation with sports to better understand the intricate factors of doping practices (Engelberg & Skinner, 2016). Sport managers can guide and shape policies against performance enhancement substances and methods that control workplace environment of athletes, facilitate belief in the integrity of drug testing systems and build trust in governments and international federations (Engelberg & Skinner, 2016).

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The proper anti-doping education, the correct guidance and encouragement of positive principles, are as critical as punishment is, for developing sports practice without doping (Arvaniti, 2006). The focus of education activities of WADA is not only on the athlete, but extend to the athlete’s staff and every person who has an impact on the athlete’s decision making (Cléret, 2011). Patterson et al. (2016) suggest that even though the sports person is the priority to be educated of anti-doping rules, anti-doping education for coaches and athlete support personnel is key to preventing the use of performance enhancement drugs. This is important because they should uphold information of anti-doping rules, abide by testing, promote anti-doping mindset in athletes, cooperate with doping-related inspections, proclaim prior doping participation to organizations and avoid use of prohibited substances and practices personally (Patterson et al., 2016). They point out that currently there is minimal anti-doping education for coaches, which is a cause of concern as coaches are obeyed without question. Thus, to tackle the problem, Patterson et al. (2016) propose that anti-doping education provided to coaches should be “coach centered” instead of “athlete centred”, which should involve educational activities that are tailored according to their work and made a compulsory part of coach development processes.

However, supplying such education encounters certain challenges which need to be solved by sport managers. Firstly, limited resources, including both money and personnel is a challenge (Patterson et al., 2016; Gatterer et al., 2019). In terms of manpower, individuals responsible for anti-doping education often had other responsibilities related to doping such as developing strategy, designing, and face-to-face delivery, and some even had other responsibilities beyond anti-doping within an organization (Patterson et al., 2016). Majority of national anti-doping organizations (NADOs) informed that with more money these organisations can offer increased number of activities on a more regular basis and hire more workforce and educate them to deliver the anti-doping programs appropriately (Gatterer et al., 2019). Secondly, lack of trust, negative perception of anti-doping efforts because of the common belief that their centre of focus is catching cheaters (Patterson et al., 2016). For example, WADA and the Russian doping scandal in which WADA supported their laboratory in Moscow for 5 years (2010 to 2015) even when notified of poor performance, which questions the integrity of results that the laboratories publish or present in court, thus reduces the trust (Boye, Skotland, Østerud, & Nissen-Meyer, 2017). Thirdly, anti-doping education system lacks communication, coordination and systematic regulation from organizations higher in the system (Patterson et al.,2016). Individuals in national governing bodies (NGBs) suggested that they be given not much advice or support from international federations (IFs) or WADA about minimum standards of their education requirement (Patterson et al., 2016). Fourthly, absence of interest from athletes and their support network leads to more difficulty in communicating to them because of their opinion that training routine is much more valuable then anti-doping education (Gatterer et al., 2019). This was reinforced when a study revealed that coaches prioritized performance of athlete, over including doping prevention in the athletes training (Gatterer et al., 2019). These issues restrict appropriate providence and progression of anti-doping education.

To address some of anti-doping education challenges the following recommendations might benefit. First, to begin a coach specific anti-doping education programmes which are not only focused on promoting athlete’s performance, but also highlight the present compliance and knowledge-based content (such as doping control, the Prohibited list of substances and methods) with a multidimensional method (Patterson et al., 2016). Second, reinforce researches that involve “stakeholders” at functional level to understand their dedication to provide knowledge to all the populations mentioned in the World Anti-doping Code (WADC) (Patterson et al., 2016)


  1. Arvaniti, N. (2006). Ethics in sport: The Greek educational perspective on anti-doping. Sport in Society, 9(2), 354-370.
  2. New Wada report shows rise in doping cases. (2019, December 20). The Straits. Retrieved from
  3. Backhouse, S. H., Patterson, L., & McKenna. (2012). Achieving the Olympic ideal: Preventing doping in sport. Performance Enhancement & Health, 1(2), 83-85.
  4. Patterson, L.B., Backhouse, S.H., & Duffy, P.J. (2016). Anti-doping education for coaches: Qualitative insights from national and international sporting and anti-doping organisations. Sport Management Review, 19(1), 35-47.
  5. Engelberg, T., & Skinner, J. (2016). Doping in sport: Whose problem is it? Sport Management Review, 19(1), 1-5. doi:
  6. Schubert, M., & Könecke, T. (2015). ‘Classical’ doping, financial doping and beyond: UEFA’s financial fair play as policy of anti-doping. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 7(1), 63-86.
  7. Cléret, L. (2011). The role of anti-doping education in delivering WADA’s mission. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 3(2), 271-277.
  8. Gatterer, K., Gumpenberger, M., Overbye, M., Bernhard, S., Schobersberger, W., & Blank, C. (2019). An evaluation of prevention initiatives by 53 national anti-doping organizations: Achievements and limitations. Journal of Sport and Health Science,
  9. Boye, E., Skotland, T., Østerud, B., & Nissen-Meyer, J. (2017). Doping and drug testing: Anti-doping work must be transparent and adhere to good scientific practices to ensure public trust. EMBO Reports, 18(3), 351–354.

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