Athletes in team sports reluctant to become whistleblowers
The study on whistleblowing, conducted by Dr Lisa Whitaker, Professor Susan Backhouse, and Professor Jonathan Long at Leeds Met, has been published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports.
Nine national level athletes from rugby league and track and field athletics were interviewed about their perspectives on drug taking in sport and the role of the whistleblower.
Track and field athletes suggested that they would adopt the role of whistleblower and report doping behaviour, although they were unsure of the protocol. The rugby league players highlighted the moral dilemma of implicating a team mate and showed a preference to adhere to a code of silence and stay silent.
This suggests that some athletes, especially those involved in team sports, will not report doping even though they feel it is detrimental to their sport. Reasons given were fears of affecting team cohesion and how they would be treated.
Speaking about the findings, lead researcher Dr Lisa Whitaker said: "With more emphasis being placed on investigation-led approaches by the World Anti-doping Agency, it is important that individuals feel that they have a role to play in keeping sport clean.
"By increasing awareness of reporting lines and adopting a community responsibility approach to anti-doping where every individual is encouraged to play a role in preventing negative behaviours, athletes may be more likely to report doping behaviour."
The findings suggest that in the future prevention programs might focus on changing community norms around doping. In doing so, community members' receptivity to prevention messages may increase. The research paper also suggests that athletes speaking out against social norms that support doping behaviour or increasing awareness of reporting lines could enhance a shared responsibility for doping prevention. The study highlights the need for policy makers and enforcement agencies to consider the context of each individual sport and emphasises that a one- size-fits-all approach to anti-doping is problematic and ineffective.
For the full paper visit - http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/sms.12222/pdf