In force

Determinants of intentions for doping in sports

Principal investigator
H. Tsorbatzoudis
V. Barkoukis
L. Lazuras
A. Rodafinos
H. Spiliopoulou
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Year approved
Attitudes toward doping, International-level, Elite, High Performance

Project description


This project aimed to:

• Identify the sportspersonship and motivational profiles of athletes using or intending to use prohibited substances

• Examine the effect of psychosocial variables on athletes’ intention to engage in doping, in order to inform subsequent prevention interventions aimed at athletes with risk for doping

• Provide a parsimonious, theory-driven, and integrated model of the psychosocial determinants of prohibited substance use in sports.


The methods involved the cross-sectional administration of a battery of psychological measures in a representative sample (N = 1040) of elite athletes in Greece. The measures included: o Demographic characteristics (age, gender) o Achievement goal orientations o Motivational regulations o Sportspersonship orientations o Beliefs about the causes of success in sports o Attitudes, social norms, and behavioral control beliefs o Social desirability.


• The results of the cluster analysis revealed three achievement goal groups (mastery and approach oriented and high achievers), three self-determination groups (high and low motivated and demotivated) and two sportspersonship groups (high and low sportspersonship). Mastery oriented and high motivated athletes showed the less intention to engage in doping practices compared to high achievers and demotivated athletes. No significant differences were revealed between the sportspersonship groups.

• Regarding the effect of psychosocial variables on athletes’ intention to engage in doping, the regression analyses indicated that introjection and mastery approach goals were negative predictors of intentions, whereas amotivation and performance avoidance goals were positive predictors. In terms of sportpersonship, only social conventions predicted negatively intentions to engage in doping. The TPB variables were found to be significant predictors of intentions.

• The investigation of the integrated model indicated that the effect of distal variables (i.e., achievement goals and motivational regulations) was mediated by the effect of more proximal ones, mainly that of the TPB variables and situational temptation


Significance for Clean Sport

The findings of the present study support previous research evidence and theoretical underpinnings on the effect of achievement goals and motivational regulations on planning and executing an unhealthy behavior, such as doping. Furthermore they highlight the important role the TPB variables and situational temptation can play in understanding the mechanisms through which intentions to engage in doping are formulated. Surprisingly, doping was not considered as an unethical behavior and sportspersonship dimensions did not have the expected effect.


Related Publications

Predictors of Doping Intentions in Elite-Level Athletes: A Social Cognition Approach

Motivational and social cognitive predictors of doping intentions in elite sports: An integrated approach

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