Condemning and condoning: Elite amateur cyclists' perspectives on drug use and professional cycling

  • Outram S
  • Stewart B
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Abstract

Background: Sports doping is condemned by sports authorities and by society at large. Cycling has a particularly infamous relationship with sports doping, especially at professional level. Using interviews with elite amateur cyclists, this paper examines how cyclists close to, but not within, the ranks of professional cycling perceive the relationship between cycling and doping. Methods: Eleven elite amateur cyclists from Melbourne were interviewed with regards to their experiences as cyclists, use of training technologies, supplements and other substances, and their attitudes to doping in sport, especially cycling. Results: Interviewees described how their training schedule is extremely demanding and frequently necessitates the use of substances such as caffeine, anti-inflammatory medications, and energy boosters. Some distanced themselves and their use of supplements and substances from doping and condemned such practices as unethical and objectionable. Others appeared to empathise with professional cyclists' use of doping substances given that they rely on cycling for their income and made comparisons between doping and their own licit (not WADA-prohibited) substance use. Conclusions: The perception of professional cycling as a sport intimately tied to drug taking places those nearest to professional cycling into a practical and moral predicament. Our interviews suggest that while elite amateur cyclists do not appear supportive of drug deregulation in sport they are not necessarily fully supportive of current anti-doping policy.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Anti-doping
  • Cycling
  • Health
  • Sport
  • Supplements

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Authors

  • Simon M. Outram

  • Bob Stewart

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