Centre for Human Performance

Blowing the whistle on doping in sport through evidence-informed policymaking

Seeking to evoke a deeper understanding amongst the global sporting community of what it takes to speak up to protect the integrity of sport and the welfare of its participants.
Blowing the whistle on doping in sport through evidence-informed policymaking

the challenge

Anti-doping organisations worldwide are compelling those with information on violations of the World Anti-Doping Code to come forward and disclose so that action can be taken. Yet, limited attention has been afforded to deepening our understanding of the individual, situational and/or cultural factors that influence individuals’ decisions to report anti-doping rule violations in sport. By developing an understanding of the barriers to reporting on doping, sport will be better placed to address these barriers and create a culture of speaking up about doping.

Every time an athlete or athlete support personnel is deterred from speaking up, an opportunity to protect the rights of athletes and the wider community for clean sport is missed. Establishing a culture where people feel able to speak up and have confidence that their concerns will be listened to - and acted upon - is arguably the most important element of whistleblowing policy and practice. Reporting doping is about more than just individuals: it is collective and cultural. 

The Approach

This five-phase program of research established an evidence-base for informing WADA’s whistleblowing framework for reporting doping behaviors by employing a mixed-methods approach grounded in theory and informed by whistleblowing and antidoping literature.

The impact

This research has already had global impact on sporting communities and organisations. For example, it has directly informed the development of global good practice guidelines published by the International Olympic Committee and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime regarding receiving and handling reports of wrongdoing.

Bringing the research to life through film Dr Kelsey Erickson, Dr Laurie Patterson and Prof Sue Backhouse have collaborated with Northern Film School director and producer, Laura Torenbeek, to disseminate their latest research findings in a format that is credible, authentic and in tune with the digital age.

How an organisation or a sporting community responds to athletes and support personnel speaking up about doping is critical. We need to activate and amplify the integrity voice in sport so that it becomes part of the conversation. Without the courageous actions of the people we spoke to and storied in our film, we would still be in the dark. Let’s recognise those who shine a light on doping in sport because they are not a snitch or a betrayer, they are integrity lumieres.

Outputs and recognition

Contact Professor Sue Backhouse

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