Doping in bodybuilders : a qualitative investigation of facilitative psychosocial processes

Ian Boardley, Jonathan Grix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The current study was designed to investigate the psychosocial processes that
support PED use in bodybuilders utilising Bandura’s (1991) social cognitive theory
of moral thought and action. Participants were nine bodybuilders who had
previously used or were currently using illicit performance-enhancing substances.
In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted to investigate the
psychological and social processes that facilitated their introduction to, and continuation of, doping. Study data were content-analysed deductively using definitions for the eight mechanisms of moral disengagement (Bandura 1991).
However, evidence for only six mechanisms was present and a further three
emergent themes were inductively coded. The six mechanisms evidenced were
moral justification, euphemistic labelling, advantageous comparison, displacement of responsibility, diffusion of responsibility and distortion of consequences. The three emergent themes related to the routinisation of doping, discussing doping with family and friends, and progression from supplement use to doping. All nine themes were discussed with reference to Bandura’s (1991) theory as well as the extant qualitative literature on doping in sport.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)422-439
Number of pages18
JournalQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Issue number3
Early online date12 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • moral disengagement
  • performance-enhancing drugs
  • positivism
  • socialisation
  • deductive reasoning
  • inductive reasoning


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