Limitations and duties: elite athletes’ perceptions of compliance with anti-doping rules

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The main purpose of this article is to examine how elite athletes perceive their own responsibilities and possibilities to be compliant with the anti-doping regulations, and to draw conclusions about what these perceptions mean in relation to the legitimacy of the anti-doping system. A qualitative research design, with interviews conducted with athletes globally, was employed to capture elite sportspersons’ views on anti-doping policy and procedures. The analysis was based on a theoretical framework on legitimacy. The findings show that athletes’ situation is characterized by limited information and a lack of leeway. At the same time, athletes find themselves obliged to be dutiful. We discuss the complex situation of simultaneously facing perceived limitations and duties, and consider the limits that athletes experience in relation to compliance, which may place the legitimacy of the anti-doping system at risk.


  • Anna Qvarfordt
  • Nader Ahmadi
  • Åsa Bäckström
  • David Hoff
External organisations
  • University of Gävle
  • Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Work Sciences
  • Sport and Fitness Sciences


  • anti-doping, compliance, Doping in sports, elite athletes, legitimacy, WADA
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-570
JournalSport in Society
Issue number4
Early online date2019 Oct 30
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication categoryResearch