Anti-doping researcher shortlisted for prestigious international award
PhD student Kelsey Erickson, who undertook the study as part of her MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Leeds Met, is in the running for The Young Investigator Award. Her report, which doubled up as her dissertation, found that strong connections with parental figures and positive influences from coaches help to prevent athletes from using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).
Kelsey commented: "Ten competitive athletes took part in the study, five males and five females, one from each gender representing a different sport: field hockey, boxing, football, triathlon and rugby.
"All of the participants reported that they had never utilised PEDs at any point in their careers and they were confident that they would refrain from using in the future as well. They each expressed a belief that there is a significant amount of pressure to engage in doping across the entire sport spectrum, from the beginning levels up to the elite level. It appears that the combination of having self-confidence and strong morals enabled the participants to achieve competitive levels in their respective sports without being tempted to use PEDs.
"In summary, based on the views of the cross section of athletes who volunteered to be a part of my research, the findings revealed that both personal factors such as self-confidence and resilience as well as systematic factors, such as having strong connections with parental figures and positive influences from coaches appear to protect against the use of PEDs."
The Young Investigator Award aims to encourage masters level students internationally to focus their area of research on anti-doping issues. Winners are awarded a $2,000 prize by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), for their outstanding and innovative research projects that will contribute to the development of effective doping prevention strategies.
Kelsey's research is the only UK-based project to be shortlisted for this year's award, with her fellow finalists having undertaken studies in Canada, Jamaica and Russia. If successful, her profile will be featured on the WADA website and her study findings disseminated globally. The winner will be announced later this month (date yet to be confirmed).
Kelsey, added: "Only two previous studies have examined the existence of protective factors surrounding athletes and doping.
"My research presents important practical implications for sport coaches, sports psychologists, policy makers, and athletes. The findings imply that future avenues of anti-doping efforts should include developing and enhancing protective factors for athletes in addition to the current attempts to minimise risk factors."