In force Publication date 09 Jan 20

Blowing the whistle on doping in sport through evidence-informed policy making

Principal investigator
K. Erickson
S. Backhouse
L. Patterson
United Kingdom
Leeds Beckett University
Year approved
Athlete Support Personnel, Governance and Compliance

Project description

This research program establishes 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 anti-doping literature.



The project was completed in 5 phases. 1) independent audit of whistleblowing best practice, 2) independent audit of sport whistleblowing platform, 3) interviews with coaches and athletes and whistleblowers, 4) evidence informed whistleblowing survey, 5) development of an evidence informed whistle blowing policy and practice guidelines.



Whether specific to reporting doping or general wrongdoing, there is an abundance of existing sport whistleblowing platforms. Specifically, 75% of IFs (26/35) and 20% of NADOs (24/141) have whistleblowing platforms in place. Beyond this, whistleblowing platforms also exist for WADA and several ‘independent’ international organizations (e.g., SportLeaks, ICSS). The available platforms vary in terms of how they are managed (e.g., internal to the organization/external to the organization), the avenues through which an individual can provide information (e.g., telephone, email) and how much information is requested from the individual (e.g., personal/contact details).


Significance for Clean Sport

This program of research illustrates the barriers to whistleblowing that need to be overcome if we are to create a culture of speaking up about doping. It has highlighted the complex interplay of the training and competition environment with the capabilities, opportunities, and motivation of athletes and athlete support personnel (ASP) to report doping in sport.

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