Portraits of adolescent athletes facing personal and situational risk factors for doping initiation

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The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore the personal and situational factors that contribute to the initiation of doping among adolescent athletes.


This research was guided by a social constructionist epistemology and a relativist ontology.


Data were collected using face-to-face, semi-structured interviews with 21 young adults who reflected on their experiences related to doping as adolescent athletes in a variety of competitive sports. The data analysis consisted of the development of creative non-fiction portraits (drawing upon the traditions of creative non-fiction storytelling and portraiture). This approach involves the creation of a story that is not a direct account of a participant's experience but a representation of events and experiences, grounded in research data.


Four portraits were created depicting four separate characters with a unique set of beliefs, perceptions, motives, and circumstances that lead them to consider initiating doping. The portraits take the form of an inner monologue of the characters and depict a complex set of personal and situational factors that contribute to doping behavior.


Presenting the findings as portraits provides an accessible form of data presentation that readers can relate to and draw personally-relevant conclusions from.

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