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

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2013 Oct;23(5):e330-40. doi: 10.1111/sms.12068. Epub 2013 Apr 10.


Doping use is an important issue in both competitive and non-competitive sports, and poses potentially irreversible health consequences to users. Scholars increasingly call for theory-driven studies on the psychosocial processes underlying doping use that will inform subsequent policy-making and prevention interventions. The aim of the study was to implement an integrative theoretical model to assess the direct and indirect effects of motivational variables, moral orientations, and social cognitions on doping intentions. A randomly selected and representative sample of 750 elite athletes anonymously completed a battery of questionnaires on motivational and moral constructs, and social cognitions related to doping. Hierarchical linear regression analysis and multiple mediation modeling were used. The effects of achievement goals and moral orientations were significantly mediated by attitudinal, normative, and self-efficacy beliefs, in both lifetime ever and never doping users. Moral orientations indirectly predicted the doping intentions of never users, but did not predict ever users' doping intentions. Achievement goals and sportspersonship orientations influence doping intentions indirectly, through the effects of attitudes and self-efficacy beliefs. Sportspersonship (moral) orientations were relevant to doping intentions among athletes with no prior experiences with doping, while achievement goals and situational temptation were relevant to both lifetime never and ever dopers.

Keywords: achievement goals; doping; self-determination; sportspersonship; theory of planned behavior; theory of triadic influence.

MeSH terms

  • Athletes / psychology*
  • Attitude
  • Doping in Sports / prevention & control
  • Doping in Sports / psychology*
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Morals
  • Motivation
  • Peer Group
  • Self Efficacy
  • Social Values*
  • Sports / psychology*
  • Sports / standards
  • Surveys and Questionnaires