Virtue or Pretense? Looking behind Self-Declared Innocence in Doping

School of Life Sciences, Kingston University London, Kingston upon Thames, United Kingdom.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 05/2010; 5(5):e10457. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010457
Source: PubMed


Social science studies of doping practices in sport rely predominantly on self-reports. Studies of psychoactive drug use indicate that self-reporting is characterised by under-reporting. Likewise doping practice is likely to be equally under-reported, if not more so. This calls for more sophisticated methods for such reporting and for independent, objective validation of its results. The aims of this study were: i) to contrast self-reported doping use with objective results from chemical hair analysis and ii) to investigate the influence of the discrepancy on doping attitudes, social projection, descriptive norms and perceived pressure to use doping.
A doping attitudes questionnaire was developed and combined with a response latency-based implicit association test and hair sample analysis for key doping substances in 14 athletes selected from a larger sample (N = 82) to form contrast comparison groups. Results indicate that patterns of group differences in social projection, explicit attitude about and perceived pressure to use doping, vary depending on whether the user and non-user groups are defined by self-report or objectively verified through hair analysis. Thus, self-confessed users scored higher on social projection, explicit attitude to doping and perceived pressure. However, when a doping substance was detected in the hair of an athlete who denied doping use, their self-report evidenced extreme social desirability (negative attitude, low projection and low perceived pressure) and contrasted sharply with a more positive estimate of their implicit doping attitude.
Hair analysis for performance enhancing substances has shown considerable potential in validating athletes' doping attitude estimations and admissions of use. Results not only confirm the need for improved self-report methodology for future research in socially-sensitive domains but also indicate where the improvements are likely to come from: as chemical validation remains expensive, a more realistic promise for large scale studies and online data collection efforts is held by measures of implicit social cognition.

Download full-text


Available from: Andrea Petróczi,
    • "The effects were very small and variance was large, so these relationships were not statistically significant however. In summary, Petróczi et al. (2010, 2011) proposed that direct and indirect measures of attitude were dissociable and thence that strong rejection of doping in the PEAS combined with a (B)IAT result indicating a rather lenient attitude to doping might be indicative of unacknowledged doping. "

    The Psychology of Doping Sport, Edited by Vassilis Barkoukis, Lambros Lazuras, Haralambos Tsorbatzoudis, 01/2015: chapter 3: pages 33-42; Routledge., ISBN: 978-1-138-79347-7
  • Source
    • "Brand, Melzer and Hagemann [20] compared the measurement properties of this early version of a doping IAT [19] with an alternative procedure [21] and showed that test results were strongly dependent on the test stimuli used. Shortly thereafter Petróczi et al. [22] published preliminary results from a study in which a brief IAT (BIAT) was employed. The BIAT is a shorter version of the standard IAT procedure [23]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background Knowing and, if necessary, altering competitive athletes’ real attitudes towards the use of banned performance-enhancing substances is an important goal of worldwide doping prevention efforts. However athletes will not always be willing to reporting their real opinions. Reaction time-based attitude tests help conceal the ultimate goal of measurement from the participant and impede strategic answering. This study investigated how well a reaction time-based attitude test discriminated between athletes who were doping and those who were not. We investigated whether athletes whose urine samples were positive for at least one banned substance (dopers) evaluated doping more favorably than clean athletes (non-dopers). Methods We approached a group of 61 male competitive bodybuilders and collected urine samples for biochemical testing. The pictorial doping Brief Implicit Association Test (BIAT) was used for attitude measurement. This test quantifies the difference in response latencies (in milliseconds) to stimuli representing related concepts (i.e. doping–dislike/like–[health food]). Results Prohibited substances were found in 43% of all tested urine samples. Dopers had more lenient attitudes to doping than non-dopers (Hedges’s g = -0.76). D-scores greater than -0.57 (CI95 = -0.72 to -0.46) might be indicative of a rather lenient attitude to doping. In urine samples evidence of administration of combinations of substances, complementary administration of substances to treat side effects and use of stimulants to promote loss of body fat was common. Conclusion This study demonstrates that athletes’ attitudes to doping can be assessed indirectly with a reaction time-based test, and that their attitudes are related to their behavior. Although bodybuilders may be more willing to reveal their attitude to doping than other athletes, these results still provide evidence that the pictorial doping BIAT may be useful in athletes from other sports, perhaps as a complementary measure in evaluations of the effectiveness of doping prevention interventions.
    Substance Abuse Treatment Prevention and Policy 09/2014; 9(1):36. DOI:10.1186/1747-597X-9-36 · 1.16 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "The IAT has been extensively studied in social psychology to assess implicit beliefs, attitudes, and prejudices to measure self-esteem and self-concept (Nosek et al., 2007). Clinical applications indicate that the IAT may be an effective technique to identify suicide-prone subjects, Pedophilia sexual orientation, doping, and personality assessment (Gray et al., 2005; Schmukle et al., 2008; Nock et al., 2010; Petròczi et al., 2010). Nock et al. (2010), for example, reported that the IAT might be useful in detecting suicidal ideations in people who attempted suicide. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The autobiographical Implicit Association Test (aIAT; Sartori et al., 2008) is a variant of the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald et al., 1998) that is used to establish whether an autobiographical memory is encoded in the respondent's mind/brain. More specifically, with the aIAT, it is possible to evaluate which one of two autobiographical events is true. The method consists of a computerized categorization task. The aIAT includes stimuli belonging to four categories, two of them are logical categories and are represented by sentences that are always true (e.g., I am in front of a computer) or always false (e.g., I am climbing a mountain) for the respondent; two other categories are represented by alternative versions of an autobiographical event (e.g., I went to Paris for Christmas, or I went to New York for Christmas), only one of which is true. The true autobiographical event is identified because, in a combined block, it gives rise to faster reaction times when it shares the same motor response with true sentences. Here, we reviewed all the validation experiments and found more than 90% accuracy in detecting the true memory. We show that agreement in identifying the true autobiographical memory of the same aIAT repeated twice is, on average, more than 90%, and we report a technique for estimating accuracy associated with a single classification based on the D-IAT value, which may be used in single subject's investigations. We show that the aIAT might be used to identify also true intentions and reasons and conclude with a series of guidelines for building an effective aIAT.
    Frontiers in Psychology 08/2013; 4(519):519. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00519 · 2.80 Impact Factor
Show more