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Doping in sport: an analysis of sanctioned UK rugby union players between 2009 and 2015

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Abstract

To inform anti-doping policy and practice, it is important to understand the complexities of doping. The purpose of this study was to collate and systematically examine the reasoned decisions published by UK Anti-Doping for doping sanctions in rugby union in the UK since the introduction of the 2009 World Anti-Doping Code. Case files were content analysed to extract demographic information and details relating to the anti-doping rule violation (ADRV), including individuals' explanations for how/why the ADRV occurred. Between 2009 and 2015, 49 rugby union players and one coach from across the UK were sanctioned. Over 50% of the cases involved players under the age of 25, competing at sub-elite levels. Reasons in defence of the ADRV focused on functional use and lifestyle factors rather than performance enhancement. An a priori assessment of the "need", "risk" and "consequence" of using a substance was not commonplace; further strengthening calls for increasing the reach of anti-doping education. The findings also deconstruct the view that "doped" athletes are the same. Consequently, deepening understanding of the social and cultural conditions that encourage doping remains a priority.
Doping in sport: An analysis of sanctioned UK rugby union players between 2009 and
2015
L. Whitaker & S. Backhouse
Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK
RUNNING HEAD: AN ANALYSIS OF SANCTIONED UK RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
Author Note
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr Lisa Whitaker,
Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure, Leeds Beckett University, Headingley
Campus, Leeds, LS6 3QS, UK.
Telephone number: +44 (0)113 812 8651
Email address: L.A.Whitaker@leedsbeckett.ac.uk
Additional author contact details:
Professor Susan Backhouse: S.Backhouse@leedsbeckett.ac.uk
Telephone number: +44 (0)113 812 4684
Key words: anti-doping; WADA; anti-doping rule violations; rugby union
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Abstract
To inform anti-doping policy and practice, it is important to understand the
complexities of doping. The purpose of this study was to collate and systematically
examine the reasoned decisions published by UK Anti-Doping for doping sanctions in
rugby union in the UK since the introduction of the 2009 World Anti-Doping Code.
Case files were content analysed to extract demographic information and details
relating to the anti-doping rule violation (ADRV), including individuals’ explanations
for how/why the ADRV occurred. Between 2009 and 2015, 49 rugby union players
and one coach from across the UK were sanctioned. Over 50% of the cases involved
players under the age of 25, competing at sub-elite levels. Reasons in defence of the
ADRV focused on functional use and lifestyle factors rather than performance
enhancement. An a priori assessment of the ‘need’, ‘risk’ and ‘consequence’ of using
a substance was not commonplace; further strengthening calls for increasing the
reach of anti-doping education. The findings also deconstruct the view that ‘doped’
athletes are the same. Consequently, deepening understanding of the social and
cultural conditions that encourage doping remains a priority.
Key words: anti-doping; WADA; anti-doping rule violations; rugby union
AN ANALYSIS OF UK SANCTIONED RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
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Introduction
Media headlines highlight that doping is omnipresent in sport, yet fail to
convey the complexities of the behaviour, which can perpetuate a naïve belief that
all ‘doped’ athletes are the same (Pluim, 2008). The World Anti-Doping Agency
(WADA) define doping as “the occurrence of one or more of the anti-doping rule
violations (ADRVs) set forth in Article 2.1 through Article 2.10 of the Code” (World
Anti-Doping Agency, 2015, p. 18). Taken together, the ten ADRV’s define a spectrum
of behaviours, ranging from the presence of a prohibited substance (or its
metabolites or markers) in an athlete’s sample (Article 2.1) to associating with any
athlete support personnel (e.g., coach, doctor, physiotherapist) who are serving an
ADRV or have been found guilty of a criminal or disciplinary offence that is
equivalent to an ADRV (Prohibited Association, Article 2.10). Moreover, because the
WADA enforces strict liability under Article 2.1 and 2.2 of the Code (World Anti-
Doping Agency, 2015; p.141), an ADRV can be established without an Anti-Doping
Organisation having to demonstrate “intent, Fault, negligence or knowing Use on the
Athlete’s part”. This cornerstone of the Code further extends the potential for
heterogeneity across doping cases.
These points notwithstanding, there is still a tendency to label athletes who
commit an ADRV as a ‘doper’ regardless of the context and circumstances leading to
that ADRV. For example, an athlete who unintentionally and unknowingly consumes
a banned substance by ingesting a nutritional supplement is often labelled a ‘doper’
in the same way as an athlete who has deliberately used an anabolic steroid to gain
an unfair advantage over others. Yet while both cases violate the anti-doping rules,
the former would not constitute ‘cheating’ as the athlete in question was not
AN ANALYSIS OF UK SANCTIONED RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
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intentionally seeking to gain an unfair advantage over others. Extending the
argument further, an athlete who deliberately uses a banned substance might not
be driven by a desire to outperform others in a sporting context. Instead, they may
be using chemical assistance to recover from injury, cope with stress and return to
play. In this instance use is defined by functionality rather than performance
enhancement (Petróczi, 2013). Indeed, many ADRVs do not involve individuals who
are deliberately trying to gain an unfair advantage over others - some involve the use
of recreational drugs or mistakenly ingesting a prohibited substance via medication
or nutritional supplements (Henning & Dimeo, 2015; Pluim, 2008). However, the
‘doper’ label still pervades. Consequently, there is a pressing need for research to
carefully deconstruct the ‘cheating narrative’ (Tamburrini, 2006) so that anti-doping
policy and practice can evolve as an evidence-based field.
One of the reasons for labelling athletes who commit an ADRV as ‘dopers’
might be associated with research traditions in the field. Typically, studies examine
the antecedents of prohibited substance use. With use and intention to use
prohibited substances driving the research agenda, a number of ‘critical incidents’
that could lead to doping have emerged. These include career transitions (Kirby,
Moran, & Guerin, 2011; Lentillon-Kaestner & Carstairs, 2010; Mazanov, Huybers, &
Connor, 2011), suffering an injury (Bloodworth & McNamee, 2010; Kirby, et al.,
2011; Whitaker, Long, Petróczi, & Backhouse, 2014), a desire to maintain current
standard of living (Bloodworth & McNamee, 2010) and experiencing a series of poor
performances (Kirby, et al., 2011) being identified. However, these critical incidents
are defined by the consumption of a substance included on the Prohibited List (the
list is updated annually by the WADA and contains information on any substance or
AN ANALYSIS OF UK SANCTIONED RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
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method that is prohibited at all times or in-competition only) (World Anti-Doping
Agency, 2016) and thus only apply to two of the 10 ADRVs. Yet if we are to
understand how/why individuals fail to comply with anti-doping policy, it is
important to deepen our understanding of the nature of the behaviour to be
changed (Michie, van Stralen, & West, 2011). In order to do so, we need to
investigate all the behaviours that constitute doping under the Code. This shift in
focus would also reflect policy changes brought into the 2015 WADA Code which
hold athlete support personnel (ASP) more accountable for their role in doping. It is
worth emphasising that not all ADRVs are committed by athletes. Infact, six of the 10
ADRVs also apply to ASP.
The sensitive and taboo nature of doping in sport presents real challenges for
furthering our understanding of this behaviour in context as it can be difficult to
recruit ‘dopers’ to participate in research. However, in fulfilling their policy
prescribed obligations, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) publicly discloses the details of all the
hearings leading to a period of ineligibility. This source of information allows us to
explore the self-declared reasons for committing an ADRV within each case.
Although, it is important to be aware that these self-declared reasons may have
been derived by individuals (and their legal team) in an attempt to reduce a sanction
and thus may not be completely truthful, they do provide a unique opportunity to
extend our understanding of the complexity of doping in sport. Responding directly
to calls for research to be sport-specific (Mohamed, Bilard, & Hauw, 2013), the
objective of this study was to examine the reasoned decisions for individuals serving
a period of ineligibility from the sport of rugby union in the UK since the 2009 Code
came into effect. The decision to focus on rugby union was taken due to the
AN ANALYSIS OF UK SANCTIONED RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
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exponential increase in the number of individuals from rugby union within the UK
serving a ban for committing an ADRV (UK Anti-Doping, 2015). In addition, the
majority of those serving a period of ineligibility within rugby union have been
emerging from amateur level competition (UK Anti-Doping, 2015) where external
rewards are limited and the disseminated drivers for doping in sport (e.g., sport
sponsorship, financial rewards, contract renewal; Mazanov, et al., 2011; Whitaker, et
al., 2014) may not apply.
Methods
Following ethical approval from the University Research Ethics Committee,
this research adopts a case study approach focusing specifically on rugby union and
utilising sources available in the public domain only. In the UK, details of individuals
who have committed an ADRV and are serving a period of ineligibility are published
on the UKAD website with the exception of cases managed elsewhere (e.g., by World
Rugby). PDF files relating to each sanctioned case occurring between 2009 and 2015
were collected from the websites of UKAD, Rugby Football Union (RFU) or World
Rugby. We reviewed cases from 2009 onwards because those cases were subject to
the implementation of the second World Anti-Doping Code published in January
2009. Content analysis was then used to extract the following information from each
case: 1) player age, 2) playing level, 3) geographical location of the club being
represented, 4) violation committed, 5) period of ineligibility and 7) the individuals’
explanation recorded at the panel hearing. It should be noted that the amount of
information included in each case varies and where an individual did not contend the
ADRV, no information was provided to explain how/why the ADRV occurred. Equally,
AN ANALYSIS OF UK SANCTIONED RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
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some cases omitted demographic information (e.g., age or playing level at the time
of receiving the ADRV). Therefore, in a bid to obtain the missing data we also
conducted web searches using Google to identify media stories relating to each
player identified as currently serving (or having previously served) a sanction.
The information presented in this paper conveys the detail provided about
each case that is freely available in the public domain. Thus, we cannot be sure that
the cases represent the ‘truth’. For example, explanations provided by individuals
regarding how/why the ADRV could have occurred may not be accurate as the
accused may have offered an alternative explanation in an attempt to
change/reduce their sanction. Yet if individuals’ accounts have been constructed in
an attempt to influence sanctions imposed, this information can inform policymakers
about how successful (or unsuccessful) defence teams are in securing reduced
sanctions or indeed whether the anti-doping regulations are understood. Equally, it
is not possible to provide in-depth information about the circumstances surrounding
each case by analysing case reports alone because the reasoned decisions provide
insufficient information to do so. However, collating and analysing the available
information allows us to systematically review the sanction landscape of rugby union
and explore any patterns that may emerge between cases. Growing numbers of
ADRV’s associated with rugby union in the UK underscore the need to develop our
understanding of the circumstances leading to an ADRV so that we can tailor anti-
doping policy and practice accordingly. In turn, this evidence-based approach is
more likely to reduce the number of players committing ADRV’s as the behavioural
diagnosis will enable tailored intervention functions to emerge (Michie, et al., 2011).
AN ANALYSIS OF UK SANCTIONED RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
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Findings
In total, 50 male rugby union players received sanctions between 2009 and
2015 (2009, n= 1; 2010, n= 2; 2011, n= 4; 2012, n= 7; 2013 n= 13, 2014 n= 13, 2015
n= 10). However, in their 2014-2015 Anti-Doping report (Rugby Football Union,
2015), the RFU reported a further four cases were on-going and therefore could not
be commented on at the time of publication. Therefore, the number of sanctions
between 2009 and 2015 may increase from 50. Figure 1 highlights the geographical
distribution of the sanctioned cases and demonstrates the clustering of cases,
particularly in Wales. The age of players/coach at the time of receiving their sanction
ranged from under 18 to 38, with the majority being under 25 (Table 1).
-Insert figure 1 here-
-Insert table 1 here-
Playing level
Players received their sanctions whilst competing at a range of levels within
the English, Scottish and Welsh rugby union systems (Table 2). However, based on
the information presented it appears the majority of sanctioned players were
competing in lower leagues.
-Insert table 2 here-
ADRV committed
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Thirty four players were sanctioned for the presence of a prohibited
substance (analytical finding) while 10 were sanctioned for use or attempted use of a
prohibited substance (non-analytical finding). Of those that were sanctioned for use
or attempted use, three were brought to hearing after ordering human growth
hormone or steroids online, five were found with needles and/or a prohibited
substance in their possession and two were uncovered by club coaches. Moreover,
three individuals were sanctioned for possession and trafficking, whilst three players
were sanctioned for refusing and failing to comply with testing procedures.
Substance(s) and length of sanction
Players were sanctioned for the presence of or attempted use of three
different types of drug; anabolic agents (n= 27), stimulants (n= 15) and hormone and
metabolic modulators (n= 6). Typically, individuals received standard bans for these
ADRVs: two year bans (n= 30) under the 2009 WADA Code and four year bans (n= 6)
after the introduction of the 2015 WADA Code (2015). However, if certain conditions
are met, it is possible for individuals to receive a ban reduction or suspension (as
detailed in Article 10 of the Code; World Anti-Doping Agency, 2015). In relation to
the presence of or attempted use of a prohibited substance, an individual can receive
a ban reduction or suspension if they can: 1) prove unintentional use, 2) prove no
significant fault or negligence (e.g., following use of a specified substance), 3)
provide substantial assistance in discovering/establishing other ADRVs or 4) make a
prompt admission of the ADRV.
Four adolescents received reduced bans: three following immediate
admissions (15 or 21 months) and one for unintentional use due to his dyslexia and
AN ANALYSIS OF UK SANCTIONED RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
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dyspraxia (2 years). Six individuals received reduced bans (between 3 and 6 months)
due to the presence of a specified substance (e.g., methylhexanaemine) and one
player received a one-year ban for exceptional mitigating circumstances following
the presence of benzoylecgonine (cocaine metabolite). In contrast, it is also possible
for individuals to receive lengthier bans for committing multiple ADRVs or for
committing more serious ADRVs (e.g., trafficking or administration of a prohibited
substance). Under the 2009 WADA Code, two players received increased bans (3
years or 3 years and 3 months) for the use of multiple anabolic agents and the
purchase of human growth hormone for personal use and family member supply. In
addition, two individuals received eight year bans for trafficking and possession of
anabolic agents where typical bans range from four years to lifetime ineligibility
depending on the severity of the ADRV (Table 3).
-Insert table 3 here-
Self-declared ADRV explanations
The explanatory information documented in each reasoned decision varied
considerably across those players contesting the charges. Further, there was no case
report available for three individuals and eight individuals chose not to contest the
charge, so their case did not go to a hearing. Consequently, these 11 cases were
precluded from further analysis.
Three cases involved trafficking and three involved refusing to provide a
sample. Explanations for the latter ADRV’s included one player with two failed
attempts at sample collection terminating the test due to a university exam and the
AN ANALYSIS OF UK SANCTIONED RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
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other players not submitting to doping control (stating work commitments/the use
of painkillers for back pain resulting in urinary retention in their reasoning). In
addition, one case involved the online purchase of human growth hormone for
personal use and supplying to a family member, while another involved the online
purchase of testosterone for bodybuilding purposes after quitting rugby due to
injury. The focus of the subsequent analysis will be on the 31 cases which provided
at least basic details on individuals’ explanations for how/why the ADRV occurred.
Through analysing the cases, it was possible to group them into five themes
with some cases overlapping more than one theme. The first four themes involved
use of a substance 1) to enhance recovery from injury, 2) to cope with work and
sports demands, 3) to aid weight management and 4) for personal reasons. The final
theme centred around the naïve use of nutritional supplements.
Enhance recovery from injury. Eight cases involved players who declared that
they had used a substance to help them to recover from an injury. Six of the players
were aware that the substance they were using was prohibited in rugby. However,
the other two players believed they were using permitted supplements that were
‘safe’ and did not contain a prohibited substance. One player claimed that he always
conducted research before using supplements and therefore believed that he tested
positive due to contamination of the product he was using during the manufacturing
process. In comparison, the other player conducted research after finding out he
had tested positive. This post-hoc research revealed he was using a product that
contained prohibited prohormones.
Cope with work and training demands. Three of the cases involved players
who were managing the dual-responsibilities of demanding occupational roles and
AN ANALYSIS OF UK SANCTIONED RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
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rugby playing commitments. Two of the individuals reported that they were
struggling to deal with the work and training demands placed on them and therefore
were becoming very fatigued. The other player testified that his occupational role
was being compromised because he had been asked to step in for the first team and
he found it difficult to cope with the increased training and competition demands at
that level. All three players reported that in order to fulfil their work and training
demands, they used nutritional supplements to reduce fatigue and enhance
recovery from training. Their explanations focused on being able to carry out their
jobs rather than enhance their rugby performance. According to the reasoned
decisions, none of the players were aware that the nutritional supplement they were
taking contained a prohibited substance. All three cases reported that players had
received little, if any, anti-doping education.
Weight management. Eight cases purportedly involved the use of a substance
for weight management purposes with three players looking to aid weight loss/burn
fat and four players looking to increase in size. Three of the cases relating to
increasing in size involved adolescent players who stated that they felt under
pressure to bulk up for rugby. In comparison, three of the cases relating to weight
reduction were for vanity reasons. Six players admitted that they knew the
substance they were using for weight management was prohibited for rugby. One
player said he only found this out though after he had undertaken a drugs test,
which prompted him to research the substance. It is unknown whether five of the
players had ever received anti-doping education but in three of the cases, it was
specifically reported at the hearing that no education had been received.
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Personal reasons. Nine cases involved the use of a substance for personal
reasons that were not directly associated with playing rugby union. Two players
reported taking substances to deal with sexual dysfunction (one player reported
taking Klomen to help enhance his sex drive while another reported taking a number
of products including Test Propate to treat erectile dysfunction). A third player
reported using Anti-Esto to ameliorate the symptoms of gynaecomastia while
another player reasoned he had used some tablets given to him from a friend at a
time where he was feeling extremely low and vulnerable. Five players had used
cocaine, with four reporting use on a night out when they were not due to be
playing rugby. However, they stated that they received a last minute call to play the
following day. One player reported using cocaine once to deal with his personal
problems at the time.
Naïve use of nutritional supplements. Six cases involved players who had been
seemingly naïve and careless when using nutritional supplements. A professional
player stated he mistakenly drank from a bottle he believed to contain only water
but in fact contained Anabolic Nitro. This product was supplied to the club through a
sponsorship deal and consequently, six players were using the supplement. The club
briefly withdrew supply in 2010 following two positive cases in South Africa, but
reinstated supply in 2011. Following the player’s ADRV, his club requested Anabolic
Nitro to be tested for the stimulant methylhexanaemine and analysis confirmed the
presence of the specified substance in the batch. This case underscores the need to
follow risk minimisation protocols in order to prevent inadvertent doping and
safeguard players. The other five ADRV cases reported here involved players who
consciously chose to ingest the supplement that led to their ADRV. Two players did
AN ANALYSIS OF UK SANCTIONED RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
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not do any checks before ingesting Xtreme Mass and Jack3d. In addition, one player
reportedly did some basic checks before using Unstoppable but believed it was safe
because his team mates were using it. Two of these cases stated that the players had
not received any anti-doping education but while one was an inexperienced
adolescent player, the other was an experienced semi-professional who said he was
an ‘advocate for drug-free sport’. In the other cases, financial constraints led a
student to reduce his checks when using a housemates’ protein supplement, while
the final player was aware of the need to use batch-tested supplements, but
temporary retirement led to a drop in standards and the purchase of non-batch
tested products. An ADRV was subsequently recorded following doping control at an
international match.
Discussion
Between 2009 and 2015, 49 rugby union players (two of which were also
ASP) and one coach were sanctioned for committing an ADRV. Of the 10 ADRVs set
out by the WADA, five were present in the 50 rugby union cases. Nevertheless, over
50% of the cases involved players under the age of 25, competing at sub-elite levels
and sanctioned for the ADRV’s involving the presence of a prohibited substance or
the use or attempted use of a prohibited substance. Commonplace across the cases
reviewed was a lack of awareness of the consequences of using the substance at the
point of ingestion, often due to the failure of players to do the necessary checks to
determine the associated risk of using a particular substance. As the concept of strict
liability defines current anti-doping policy and practice, it is vital that players become
habituated in ‘assessing the need, assessing the risk, and assessing the
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consequences’ of using a substance a priori. This is particularly important for young
amateur players who may become reliant on chemical assistance and this could
serve as a gateway to the use of prohited substances (Backhouse, Whitaker, &
Petróczi, 2013; Ntoumanis, Ng, Barkoukis, & Backhouse, 2014; Petróczi, 2013).
Equally, the use of chemical assistance could compromise a users health and well-
being in the short, medium and long-term.
Explanations provided for using a substance were rarely associated with
attempts to outperform others or for the purpose of rugby performance
enhancement. Rather, defences built around functional use dominated, alongside
lifestyle factors. In nine of the 31 cases analysed in depth, individuals admitted to
knowing they were using a prohibited substance and their reasons included recovery
from injury and/or for weight management. Similarly, eight cases provided
explanations involving the functional use of nutritional supplements (three for
weight control, three for combatting fatigue and two for injury recovery) rather than
to gain an unfair advantage over others. These findings give weight to the proposal
that doping is a functional behaviour (Petróczi, 2013), driven by a desire to (1)
maximise personal athletic competence (2) cope with stress or (3) optimise physical
appearance. The explanations offered in the reasoned decisions provide insight into
how/why an ADRV may have occurred. With this knowledge, ASP could aid doping
prevention by creating supportive environments that foster positive behaviours to
help athletes deal with periods of instability. For example, providing players with
functional alternatives (e.g., individualised nutrition plans based on a food first
approach and strength training programmes) may prevent young players from
habitually using chemical assistance in order to achieve a ‘quick fix’.
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Previous research analysing athletes’ defences against doping accusations
found that there were three general explanations offered: 1) imputed culpability
(crediting the ADRV to other people or circumstances, e.g., result of misinformation,
unwitting mistakes or personal hardship), 2) performance repentance (accepting
responsibility for actions and repenting whilst seeking empathy, e.g., acknowledge
ADRV but use lack of education as a reason for non-compliance) and 3) virility
defence (deny doping allegations on the basis they don’t need to dope to excel;
Henne, 2016). There are similarities between Henne’s (2016) research and the
present study in that imputed culpability and performance repentance are two
approaches evident within the reasoned decisions of the UK rugby union players. In
particular, cases are built on the contextual factors behind the sanction with the
majority of the reasoned decisions pleading innocence in some way (e.g., the use of
a contaminated supplement, lack of anti-doping education). Yet current policy
enforces strict liability and therefore being unaware that an action constitutes an
ADRV is often disregarded as a reason to reduce sanctions. In addition, strict liability
forces a focus on the individual athlete (holding them culpable and responsible for
what is in their body) whilst ignoring broader social relations (e.g., social and cultural
conditions that encourage doping). Thus negligence from clubs for example who fail
to protect their players from doping (e.g., through the delivery of education) is
ignored.
Within the 31 reasoned decisions that provided at least basic details on
how/why the ADRV occurred, one third declared that they had never received anti-
doping education. If an individual has not received education and therefore lacks
sufficient knowledge to enable them to fully comply with anti-doping regulations, it
AN ANALYSIS OF UK SANCTIONED RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
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could be deemed as unfair for them to be sanctioned. However, strict liability
disregards this as an individual does not have to have intent to commit an ADRV.
Therefore, national governing bodies and clubs should have a responsibility to
ensure that their athletes (and ASP) are fully informed of anti-doping regulations so
that they are able to comply. Compulsory education delivered within rugby clubs
supported by the rugby union national governing bodies could be one way of
ensuring that players and ASP are not uninformed about anti-doping regulations. In
turn, this may lessen the potential for a lack of education and unwitting mistakes to
be used in defence of ADRVs and increase the confidence of the anti-doping panels
to challenge these claims.
Given that three of the cases involved ASP and one involved a possible future
ASP (sport and exercise science student), it is important that individuals are
cognisant of the implications of serving a period of ineligibility for their short- and
long-term sporting and career ambitions. The ASP who received sanctions were not
only prevented from playing rugby union, but also experienced detrimental effects
on their career (e.g., loss of job) because their sanction inhibits them from working
in a sport environment. Since the introduction of the 2015 WADA Code (World Anti-
Doping Agency, 2015) and the inclusion of complicity and in particular prohibited
association as ADRVs, it is essential that individuals are knowledgeable of anti-doping
to protect themselves from committing an ADRV and risking their own career. For
example, a university student committing an ADRV - whilst training to become a
sports coach - could thwart his/her career due to prohibited association. Raising
awareness of these implications may encourage individuals to take greater care and
consideration when making behavioural choices. Previous research has indicated
AN ANALYSIS OF UK SANCTIONED RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
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that ASP are unaware of their responsibilities under the Code, leaving themselves
(and their athletes) vulnerable to committing an ADRV (Backhouse & McKenna,
2011; Backhouse & McKenna, 2012; Mazanov, Backhouse, Connor, Hemphill, &
Quirk, 2014). In recognition of the importance of developing anti-doping knowledge
and understanding amongst ASP, employees of the English Institute of Sport
undertake the UKAD advisor course to ensure they are up-to speed on all anti-
doping matters. This model of practice could be adopted by the sport governing
bodies as part of their Code of Conduct, whereby all ASP working within rugby clubs
have to undertake the UKAD advisor course as a condition of their employment.
Conclusion
Rugby union players serving a period of ineligibility for committing an ADRV
span the length and breadth of the UK, map across the participation spectrum and
provide multiple explanations for the ADRV’s committed. Taken together, the
findings underline the complex and idiosyncratic nature of doping behaviour and
highlight players aged 18-25 years as a particularly ‘at-risk’ group. Although current
anti-doping regulations do not take into account knowledge and intention when
determining that an ADRV has occurred, it is important that well-being is at the
forefront of prevention. Ensuring that athletes and ASP are fully aware of the anti-
doping regulations not only equips individuals with the ability to conform, it will also
prevent defence cases being constructed around ‘innocence’. However, it is also
necessary to gain an understanding of the social and cultural conditions behind
prohibited substance use. An over-reliance on chemical assistance, particularly at a
young age may leave players vulnerable to committing an ADRV. Therefore, a deeper
AN ANALYSIS OF UK SANCTIONED RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
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understanding of the social and cultural conditions surrounding doping behaviour is
necessary for the development of tailored interventions designed to address the
rising tide of ADRV’s in the sport of rugby union.
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AN ANALYSIS OF UK SANCTIONED RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
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Figures
Figure 1: Geographical distribution of sanctioned cases (Scotland = 3, England = 27,
Wales = 20)
AN ANALYSIS OF UK SANCTIONED RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
22
Tables
Table 1: Age of players at time of sanction
Age range Number of players
Under 18 5
18-25 22
26-33 10
34-41 4
42-49 0
50-57 1
Unknown 8
Total cases 50
AN ANALYSIS OF UK SANCTIONED RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
23
Table 2: Level of players at time of sanction
Country Level of rugby competition Number of players
England (n= 27) Premiership/A league (1) 3/1
Championship (2) 2
National League One (3) 6
6 4
7 2
9 1
College 7
County U15-18 coach 1
Scotland (n= 3) Premiership (2) 2
5 1
Wales (n= 20) Wales development 7s (1) 1
Premiership (2) 6
Championship (3) 6
5 1
6 3
8 2
Lower levels 1
AN ANALYSIS OF UK SANCTIONED RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
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Table 3: Class of drug and length of bans
Class of drug Length of ban
received
Number of
players*
Stimulants (e.g., methylhexanaemine,
benzoylecgonine)
3 months to 2 years 15
Hormone and metabolic modulators
(e.g., human growth hormone,
clomiphene)
2 years to 3 years 3
months
6
Anabolic agents (e.g., testosterone,
dianabol, trenbolone, clenbuterol,
drostanolone, 19-norandrosterone)
15 months to 4 years 27
*Total is greater than 44 as some players used more than one type of drug
... Unlike other team sports which penalize body contact, this handball feature implies the necessity of high levels of muscle strength where players' body mass might be considered as a performance factor for some playing positions [5]. The relevance of body contact for sport performance is shared with rugby and it may lead handball players to use of dietary supplements with potential benefits associated to lean body mass gain, such as creatine [6,7]. Overall, competitive handball players need a mixture of technical, tactical, physical, and psychological aspects to produce an excellent performance during matches [8]. ...
... These circumstances, added to the high proportion of athletes purchasing supplements on the internet [18], increase the risks of supplements misuse, or the risks of inadvertent doping, particularly in men. Specifically, the benefits of a higher body mass and enhanced muscle power and strength in handball may be associated with inappropriate supplementation practices and with the use of some prohibited substances that allow fast increases in body mass and reductions in body fat (e.g., anabolic androgenic steroids), as it happens in rugby [6,7]. ...
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Sports supplements are commonly used by elite athletes with the main goal of enhancing sport performance. Supplements use might be substantially different depending on the sport discipline, sex, and competitive level. To date, data about prevalence and the most-commonly used supplements in handball are scarce. Thus, the aim of this investigation was to determine the patterns of supplements use by handball players of both sexes and with different competitive levels: One hundred and eighty-seven handball players (112 men and 75 women) of different competitive levels (106 professional and 81 amateur) completed a validated self-administered questionnaire about supplements use. Supplements were classified according to the categorization of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). Overall, 59.9% of the handball players (n = 112) declared the use of at least one supplement and there were no significant differences between men and women (58.9% vs. 61.3%, p = 0.762) nor between professional vs. amateur handball players (67.1% vs. 53.8%, p = 0.074). The most prevalent supplements were sports drinks (42.2%), followed by energy bars (35.3%) and caffeine-containing products (31.6%). However, a greater consumption of group A supplements (those with strong scientific evidence; p = 0.029) and group B supplements (those with emerging scientific support, p = 0.012) was observed in male compared to female handball players. Supplements categorized as medical supplements were more commonly consumed in professional vs. amateur players (0.48 ± 0.80 vs. 0.21 ± 0.44, supplements p < 0.006). Additionally, a higher consumption of group B supplements was observed in professional compared to amateur players (0.58 ± 0.88 vs. 0.33 ± 0.72 supplements, p = 0.015). Handball players revealed a moderate use of supplements while sex and competitive level slighted changed the pattern of supplements use. A high portion of handball players use supplements as fuel during exercise and reported the use of caffeine-containing supplements to enhance performance.
... Curiosamente, aunque la magnitud de la prevalencia de dopaje es mucho mayor cuando se mide con encuestas anónimas frente a las pruebas de control de dopaje, los deportes con mayor prevalencia e incidencia de dopaje son los que han utilizado estos dos tipos de análisis Ulrich et al., 2018). El análisis actual subraya la naturaleza compleja e idiosincrásica del uso de sustancias prohibidas en los deportes (Whitaker & Backhouse, 2016), pero también sugiere que algunas disciplinas deportivas podrían tener un mayor riesgo de mala conducta por dopaje. El estudio de las razones de las diferencias en la proporción de AAF entre deportes requiere una mayor investigación. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Doping is a global problem that threatens the credibility of sport. The concept of doping as an unnatural trap and a feeling of shame for being penalized, discourages athletes from this illegal and unsporting practice. The reasons why an athlete can resort to doping are varied and heterogeneous. Different authors have studied the motivations that determine that an athlete consumes a prohibited substance or resorts to an illegal method. According to the results of doping control tests, it has been revealed that the percentage of samples containing prohibited substances has remained relatively stable both before and after the creation of WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). To date, most strategies implemented to fight doping have not taken into account the particularities of each sports discipline in terms of doping misconduct. The objective of this Doctoral Thesis was to evaluate and analyse the prevalence of doping in Olympic sports in the last decade, with the final purpose of identifying sports with greater vulnerability to doping. In addition, to investigate and determine the prevalence of the use of sports supplements mostly used by elite athletes. In order to achieve these objectives, eight investigations were proposed. Study 1 analysed the evolution of doping / anti-doping figures from 2003 to 2015 on the samples analysed and categories of substances that are most found in the athletes’ samples. In these investigations, it was observed that the increase in anti- doping pressure from 2003 to 2015 did not produce a higher percentage of adverse / atypical findings. However, the fight against doping has been effective in increasing the absolute number of samples classified as doping (from 2247 in 2003 to 5912 in 2015). Anabolic agents remain the most detected doping substances, while the rest of the substances are found much less frequently in doping control samples. In study 2, the differences in the incidence of doping between sports were assessed by analysing the frequency of adverse / atypical findings reported by the anti-doping laboratories from 2003 to 2015. In this investigation, it was determined that the incidence of adverse / atypical findings was not uniform in all sports disciplines from 2003 to 2015. Study 3 analysed the number and distribution of adverse analytical findings per drug class in individual and team sports. Analysis of the WADA anti-doping testing figures reports specify that prohibited substances used as doping agents may be different depending on the type of sport. Study 4 described the prevalence of adverse analytical findings that lead to a violation of anti-doping rules. The analysis of Anti-Doping Rule Violations reports suggests that the adverse analytical results that ultimately ended up as ADRV were not uniform across all sports disciplines. Study 5 aimed to describe changes in urine caffeine concentrations in Olympic sports using samples obtained in 2004, 2008 and 2015. In this investigation, it was observed how the concentration of caffeine obtained in competitive doping controls in Olympic sports increased from 2004 to 2015. Individual sports athletes or sports athletes of aerobic nature are more likely to use caffeine in competition. In Study 6, a questionnaire was created and validated to determine the nature of the use of dietary supplements in the population of Spanish elite athletes. The process of content validation obtained after the evaluation of a group of experts, along with the evaluation of reproducibility through a test-retest, suggests that the questionnaire meets the criteria necessary to make assessments on the use and consumption of dietary supplements in sports. Finally, Study 7 and 8 aimed to determine the prevalence on the use of supplements in a population of elite athletes and to know the gender-specific differences in patterns of consumption. A considerable proportion of athletes consume supplements with a low level of scientific evidence. In addition, athletes seem to rely on inadequate sources of information and may largely ignore the sources to detect contamination of the supplement. Men had a higher prevalence in the use of sports supplements than women, specifically in the use of proteins, and are more prone to self-prescription of these products. Key words: doping, anti-doping, banned drugs, type of sport, sport supplement, elite athlete.
... For example, athletic success, financial gain, the assumption that other athletes also use banned substances 23 14 highest prevalence and incidence of doping are the ones that have used these 2 types of analyses. 7,15,[17][18][19] The current analysis underlines the complex and idiosyncratic nature of the use of banned substances in sports, 25 but it also suggests that some sports disciplines might be at a higher risk of doping misconduct. The study of the reasons for the differences in the proportion of AAF among sports warrants further investigation. ...
Article
Full-text available
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... Research on AD knowledge has been reported from various viewpoints: competitive characteristics [1,11], athletes who have violated AD rules in the past [12], cross-sectional and longitudinal investigations [13,14], and competitors' age [15,16]. There have also been surveys addressing AD knowledge among ASP, such as healthcare professionals and coaches [17][18][19][20]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background This study was conducted to elucidate the anti-doping (AD) education, doping control experience, and AD knowledge according to the World Anti-doping Code (Code) of Japanese university athletes. Methods We collected data from 514 male athletes (Mage = 19.53 years, SD = 1.13) and 629 female athletes (Mage = 20.99 years, SD = 1.07). We asked them about their experience undergoing doping control and the AD education they had received. Then, we assessed their AD knowledge using the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Athlete Learning Program about Health and AD (ALPHA) test. Results The results showed that 2.54% of the participants had undergone doping control. Further, 30.10% received AD education at least once, and 20.82% received AD education more than once. When comparing the ALPHA scores of athletes with/without doping test experience, we observed no significant difference. However, the ALPHA scores of athletes with/without AD education were significantly different; specifically, athletes who received AD education more than once had significantly higher ALPHA scores than non-educated athletes. Conclusion These results revealed that doping control experience was not related to AD knowledge and that AD education was associated with AD knowledge, suggesting that athletes who receive AD education more than once have more accurate AD knowledge than less educated athletes on this topic. The importance of AD education in promoting understanding of AD according to the Code in sports is highlighted in this study.
... To circumvent this issue, most researchers measure variables such as doping intentions (e.g., Lazuras et al., 2015), temptation (Hodge et al., 2013;Ntoumanis et al., 2017), or likelihood (e.g., Kavussanu et al., 2016), as proxies for doping behavior. In line with previous research Ring & Kavussanu, 2017), we asked participants to report their likelihood of doping in two hypothetical situations, in which they could use a banned substance to (a) enhance performance and (b) aid recovery from injury. 3 These two scenarios were used because consultation with elite athletes suggested that fitness-related performance enhancement and injury recovery are two of the most common reasons athletes decide to use banned substances (see Huybers & Mazanov, 2012;Whitaker & Backhouse, 2017). ...
Article
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... Interestingly, although the magnitude of the prevalence of doping is much higher when measured with anonymous surveys against doping control tests, the sports with the ACCEPTED MANUSCRIPT A C C E P T E D M A N U S C R I P T 14 highest prevalence and incidence of doping are the ones that have used these 2 types of analyses. 7,15,[17][18][19] The current analysis underlines the complex and idiosyncratic nature of the use of banned substances in sports, 25 but it also suggests that some sports disciplines might be at a higher risk of doping misconduct. The study of the reasons for the differences in the proportion of AAF among sports warrants further investigation. ...
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This paper presents an automated method for extracting anabolic agents from urine samples for their GC-MS analysis by selected-ion monitoring. The sample preparation was carried out in a Hewlett-Packard 7686 SPE PrepStation system. Each 0.6-ml aliquot was hydrolyzed, extracted, dried and trimethylsilyl (TMS) derivatized in a 2-ml vial without any hands-on labor. When sample preparation was finished 2 microl of the extract was injected into the gas chromatograph by split (1:10) mode. Due to the small amount of free space in the 2-ml vials for handling the sample, parameters like time of hydrolysis, type of shaking, number of extractions and some TMS derivatization parameters had to be adjusted to achieve the best recovery for all of the compounds in the screening. Manual and automated sample preparation schemes were compared in terms of linearity, precision, accuracy, limit of detection and recovery data. When large concentrations were analyzed using the automated method no carry-over effect was observed.
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Article
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Athlete support personnel (ASP) failing to meet responsibilities under the World Anti-Doping Code risk sanction. It is unclear whether the poor knowledge of responsibilities seen in sports physicians and coaches applies to other ASP (e.g., administrators, chiropractors, family, nutritionists, physiotherapists, psychologists, and trainers). A purposive sample of Australian ASP (n = 292) responded to a survey on knowledge of anti-doping rules (35 true/false questions), ethical beliefs and practice, and attitudes toward performance enhancement. Some ASP declined to participate, claiming doping was irrelevant to their practice. Physicians were most knowledgeable (30.8/35), with family and trainers the least (26.0/35). ASP reported that improvements were needed to support anti-doping education (e.g., basis for anti-doping) and practice (e.g., rules). ASP also had a slightly negative attitude toward performance enhancement. Linear regression showed that being a sports physician, providing support at the elite level, and 15 years of experience influenced knowledge. The results confirm gaps in knowledge, suggesting that stronger engagement with ASP anti-doping education and practice is needed. Applying the principles of andragogy could help foster active engagement through emphasis on active inquiry, rather than passive reception of content. Future work on the context within which ASP experience anti-doping is needed, exploring acquisition and translation of knowledge into practice.
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The purpose of this study was to provide an ecologically valid account of the experiences of ‘admitted dopers’. In-depth interviews were conducted with five elite athletes from the sports of road cycling, mountain biking and weightlifting. The athletes had either tested positive for banned substances or had admitted to prior drug use after their retirement from competitive sport. Thematic analysis was used to extract meaning from the interview data. Individual psychological factors and contextual influences on the athletes' doping decisions were identified. The conflicting responses of these athletes make the identification of a psychological profile of athletes most at-risk for doping difficult, but morality was consistently cited as an important consideration. The culture of the athletes' team or training group and ‘critical incidents’ during the athletes' careers were often influential in precipitating drug use. Doping deterrents were also discussed, of which guilt and shame were predominant. The athletes outlined their perceived personal and social consequences of doping. Their future outlook for reducing the problem of doping in sport was generally optimistic. The findings have significant implications for the design of anti-doping research and education, and the implementation of anti-doping policy. (ecologically valid)(‘admitted dopers’), , , , , (‘critical incidents’), , , , 5····
Article
Despite the growing research on doping in sport, there is little analysis of the sanctioning process. This article contributes to remedying this gap by examining anti-doping rule violation hearings heard before the California State Athletic Commission. Drawing upon qualitative fieldwork informed by socio-legal approaches, it explores how athletes articulate defenses against formal accusations of doping. Their performances reveal broader power relationships. Analysis of the interactions between participants in the hearings illustrates how relational aspects of the hearings are integral to understanding the anti-doping sanctioning process. In sum, this article reveals how attempts to adhere to seemingly objective, procedural protocols and intersectional forms of social difference converge, complicating the pursuit of the Commission’s mandate to protect the health of athletes under its jurisdiction.
Article
Certain performance-enhancing substances and training methods are forbidden by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and other international sport organizations. The reasons usually given by ruling sports organizations to ban doping are: (i) doping is harmful to athletes' health; (ii) doping is unfair because athletes who are reluctant to use it do not have a fair chance when competing against doped athletes; (iii) doping runs counter to the ‘nature’ or the ‘spirit’ of sport, which is said to be to strive for victory by exhibiting natural physical skills and excellence of character without the help of any artificial products. In this essay, firstly, I will argue, contrary to (iii) above, that doping is not only compatible with, but also incarnates, the true spirit of modern competitive elite sports. Secondly, I will also argue, contrary to (ii) above, that, if the doping ban is kept, fairness (understood as equality of the relevant competitive conditions in a sport contest) demands more fine-tuned doping regulations and sanctions rather than increased standardization. This criticizes the IOC and WADA's current efforts to enforce general standards to punish doping violations, as their current policy fails to consider the social and sport-ethical particularities of the different communities from which dopers come.
Article
Nutritional supplement (NS) use is widespread in sport. This study applied an integrated social cognitive approach to examine doping attitudes, beliefs, and self-reported doping use behavior across NS users (n = 96) and nonusers (n = 116). Following ethical approval, 212 competitive athletes (age mean = 21.4, s = 4.5; 137 males) completed self-reported measures of doping-related social cognitions and behaviors, presented in an online format where completion implied consent. Significantly more NS users (22.9%) reported doping compared with nonusers (6.0%; U = 4628.0, P < 0.05). NS users presented significantly more positive attitudes toward doping (U = 3152.0, P < 0.05) and expressed a significantly greater belief that doping is effective (U = 3152.0, P < 0.05). When presented with the scenario that performance-enhancing substances are effective and increase the possibility of winning, NS users were significantly more in favor of competing in situations that allow doping (U = 3504.5, P < 0.05). In sum, doping use is three-and-a-half times more prevalent in NS users compared with nonusers. This finding is accompanied by significant differences in doping attitudes, norms, and beliefs. Thus, this article offers support for the gateway hypothesis; athletes who engage in legal performance enhancement practices appear to embody an "at-risk" group for transition toward doping. Education should be appropriately targeted.