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Research Case studies

Preventing doping in sport


Doping scandals continue to plague the world of sport and research into this area has become an emerging strength of the Carnegie Faculty. Our research team – led by Dr Susan Backhouse - is committed to the development of effective anti-doping policy and practice, with a range of research initiatives underway across different social sciences.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commissioned review of literature published in 2007 (Backhouse, McKenna, Atkin and Robinson) highlighted a profound lack of evidence on the social science of doping in sport and the need for evidence to develop anti-doping education programmes.

Susan and the Carnegie team have since developed positive partnerships with other researchers in the UK, Australia and the US – pulling together in the pursuit of research that will help change practice.

One current study, funded by WADA, is examining the influence of health consequence information on the likelihood of adolescent athletes using steroids. Once completed, the study findings will be widely distributed by WADA and the researchers’ own networks.


In addition to this, Susan is working with researchers in the UK and Hungary on another WADA-funded project into the markers of seeking performance enhancement in emerging young athletes, while she has also finalised a study examining the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of athlete support in personnel in Australia on the issue of anti-doping.

New additions to the team

Our increased expertise and reputation in this field was further underlined when Lisa Whitaker and Laurie Patterson joined the team after securing two-full time Carnegie PhD bursaries.

Lisa is currently researching the risk factors for legal and illegal performance enhancement in sport - the need to understand athletes’ willingness to dope is one of the unique factors of the study – and the results will provide governing bodies with an evidence base to develop their education policy for athletes.

Laurie, meanwhile, is focussing on the coaching network – an area with a dearth of published research - and will be examining an existing online anti-doping education tool for coaches, developed by WADA.

Given the current detection-based deterrents to doping are not cost effective, prevention education represents the best route to doping-free sport. At the Carnegie Faculty we are committed to pursuing this line of investigation and providing policy direction and support.

More information

If you would like more information our research into preventing doping in sport, please contact the team directly by emailing Susan Backhouse, Jim McKenna, Lisa Whitaker, or Laurie Patterson.

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