Research from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences has revealed that parental pressure makes junior athletes more likely to use banned substances to enhance sporting performance.
Because of the risks identified in the findings, lead researcher Daniel Madigan suggests anti-doping programmes should target junior athletes early in their sporting careers, and that parents should be made of the potential consequences of such pressure.
Published by the Journal of Sports Sciences, the first-of-its-kind research discovered that young athletes’ attitudes to doping are more influenced by their parents than anyone else.
The research examined perfectionism and attitudes towards doping in 129 male British junior athletes (average age 17 years) in four different aspects of perfectionism.
The study found that it was only parental pressure that showed a positive relationship with positive doping attitudes. The other factors investigated were an athlete’s striving for perfection, their concerns about making mistakes and pressure from their coach to be perfect.
The study will now be widened to examine if young female athletes are similar and if the findings are the same for those taking part in team versus individual sports.
Perfectionism and attitudes towards doping in junior athletes (Daniel Madigan; Professor Joachim Stoeber, School of Psychology, University of Kent; Professor Louis Passfield, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Kent) is published online in the Journal of Sports Sciences.