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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

To cheat or not to cheat? Researchers uncover the moral dilemmas of doping

Press Release
University of Birmingham
Originally posted May 9, 2019

Elite athletes are less likely to take banned substances if they consider the morality of what they are doing, and not just the health consequences of doping, according to a new study led by the University of Birmingham and funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

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The researchers were also interested in finding out what factors might reduce these justifications, which would ultimately allow athletes to suppress their feelings of guilt and use banned substances. The key factor which seems to protect athletes from doping was moral identity. This means how important it was to the players to be a moral person, and how strong their moral values, such as being fair or honest, were. Those players who had a strong moral identity did not use justifications for doping, expected to feel more guilt for doping, and ultimately were less likely to dope.

The researchers also found that coaches' behavior, and the 'performance climate' in which athletes were training also had a significant effect on their doping likelihood. If coaches were creating a climate in which players who made a mistake were penalised, or if they gave undue attention to the best players, athletes were more likely to turn towards banned substances. The coach can therefore play an important role in doping prevention.

The research findings are forming the basis for anti-doping interventions aimed at challenging players' attitudes towards banned substances. Funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee, the team has developed a series of interventions which highlight the moral angle through stories of athletes who have been affected by these issues, and what it has meant for them, and for their team mates and families.

The pressor is here.

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