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From fighting the bad to protecting the good: legitimation discourses in WADA’s athlete guides
University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Public Health and Sport Science, Sports Science. Gymnastik- och idrottshögskolan, GIH, Forskningsgruppen för pedagogisk idrottsforskning.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8942-3058
Lunds universitet.
Gymnastik- och idrottshögskolan, GIH, Institutionen för idrotts- och hälsovetenskap.
University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Criminology, Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2885-0635
2019 (English)In: Performance Enhancement & Health, E-ISSN 2211-2669, Vol. 7, no 1-2, article id 100147Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The global anti-doping effort in sport is based upon perceptions of the system as desirable, proper and appropriate and thus considered legitimate. The legitimacy of the anti-doping system has earlier been studied bottom-up, based on the views of athletes. In order to gain greater understanding of legitimation processes, it is also important to study legitimation strategies top-down, used by decision-making and governing bodies. The aim of this study was to use Fairclough's critical discourse analytical approach to analyse the social construction of legitimacy in the World Anti-Doping Agency's three editions of a guide to anti-doping rules aimed at athletes. The analysis was performed based on van Leeuwen's four specific legitimation strategies: authorization, rationalization, moral evaluation and mythopoesis. Our analysis shows that the legitimation of the anti-doping discourse as constructed in the athlete guides that has accompanied anti-doping regulations for more than a decade is characterized by continuity as regards an authoritarian attitude, but also by change towards a more rational and athlete-centred stance. A shift can be seen in the construction of legitimacy in the anti-doping discourse from “fighting the bad” to “protecting the good”. We discuss the moral evaluation strategy as a way to construct legitimacy for anti-doping efforts and sport in general towards a wider public. In the light of the results of this study, we conclude that policymaking in relation to doping issues should take into account the dimension of the discursive top-down legitimation, which could affect how the policy is received at the level of the athletes and provide conditions for a sustainable anti-doping system. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2019. Vol. 7, no 1-2, article id 100147
Keywords [en]
Anti-doping, Doping in sports, Legitimacy, Legitimation strategies
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-29160DOI: 10.1016/j.peh.2019.100147Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85074421285OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-29160DiVA, id: diva2:1281669
Available from: 2019-01-08 Created: 2019-01-23 Last updated: 2019-12-17Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Anti-doping – a legitimate effort?: Elite athletes' perspectives on policy and practice
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Anti-doping – a legitimate effort?: Elite athletes' perspectives on policy and practice
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The global anti-doping enterprise in sport is a comprehensive system in which the athlete is at the centre of regulation, scrutiny and control. There is limited knowledge about the implications of this extensive control system for athletes and about how athletes perceive the system; little is known about possible consequences of these implications and perceptions for the legitimacy of the system. The overall aim of this thesis is to analyse the legitimacy of global anti-doping policy and practice from the perspectives of international elite athletes.

Four articles are included in this compilation thesis. The first illustrates, based on a discourse analytical approach, how claims for legitimacy of the anti-doping system are produced in policy documents aimed at athletes. The second explores the perceptions and legitimacy of anti-doping policy and practice through a survey aimed at elite athletes in different sports and from different regions of the world. The third article examines, through an interview study, how athletes in different contexts experience the practice of anti-doping and what consequences this may have for the system's legitimacy. The interview study was also the basis for the fourth article, focusing on the athletes' experiences and perceptions of their opportunities for compliance and how this is related to their view of the system's legitimacy. Using the four articles as a basis, the analysis of legitimacy within the anti-doping system is expanded in the thesis through an overarching analytical framework inspired by David Beetham.

The results show that the legitimacy of the policy documents is based on essentially authoritative, but also rational, arguments for justifying the anti-doping enterprise. Elite athletes are generally in favour of anti-doping policy and the principle that doping should be prohibited. However, when the rules are implemented into practice, problems to do with lack of procedural justice arise which may have an impact on the system's legitimacy. Procedures in the system are perceived as having a negative effect on sportspersons' private life, and as ineffective and unequally implemented across the world; also, athletes have little influence over decision-making processes. Anti-doping practice is moreover perceived to cause structural inequalities due to inequality in access to technology, education and knowledge as well as supportive systems. Most athletes wish to comply with the rules, but many struggle with lack of control and have limited scope for taking responsibility regarding compliance with the doping rules. Even when athletes are dutiful and perform acts that confer legitimacy to the rules and the authorities, some experiences and perceptions could endanger the legitimacy of antidoping, as seen in the overall legitimacy analysis of the thesis. Athletes' perceptions of inequality, ineffectiveness and lack of leeway can be interpreted as a lack of rule conformity to the anti-doping authority. There also appears to be a lack of shared normative beliefs between sportspersons and the anti-doping authorities, as many athletes feel that their opinions are not taken into account. Decision-making processes that do not pay attention to the perceptions of those involved can result in a discrepancy between the rules and the norms.

The international anti-doping system is a major international enterprise with comprehensive rules that need to be applied equally around the world, and that also need to be legitimated in different countries where athletes have different conditions to comply with the regulations. In this thesis, I have shown that these different conditions have consequences for the ability to comply with the rules and also for the application of the regulations. The far-reaching rules mean that procedures within the system are experienced as causing a number of negative consequences. I have shown that this poses a risk to the legitimacy of the system if these problems are not addressed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Gymnastik- och idrottshögskolan, GIH, 2019. p. 93
Keywords
Anti-doping, Doping in sports, Legitimacy, Elite athletes, Compliance, WADA
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-29152 (URN)978-91-983151-6-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-02-08, Krusenstiernasalen, Högskolan i Gävle, Kungsbäcksvägen 47, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-01-22 Created: 2019-01-22 Last updated: 2020-03-25Bibliographically approved

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Qvarfordt, AnnaAhmadi, Nader

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