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Motivational and social cognitive predictors of doping intentions in elite sports: An integrated approach


Corresponding author: Vassilis Barkoukis PhD, Department of Physical Education and Sport Science, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece. Tel: +2310 992162, Fax: +2310 992173, E-mail:


Doping use is an important issue in both competitive and non-competitive sports, and poses potentially irreversible health consequences to users. Scholars increasingly call for theory-driven studies on the psychosocial processes underlying doping use that will inform subsequent policy-making and prevention interventions. The aim of the study was to implement an integrative theoretical model to assess the direct and indirect effects of motivational variables, moral orientations, and social cognitions on doping intentions. A randomly selected and representative sample of 750 elite athletes anonymously completed a battery of questionnaires on motivational and moral constructs, and social cognitions related to doping. Hierarchical linear regression analysis and multiple mediation modeling were used. The effects of achievement goals and moral orientations were significantly mediated by attitudinal, normative, and self-efficacy beliefs, in both lifetime ever and never doping users. Moral orientations indirectly predicted the doping intentions of never users, but did not predict ever users' doping intentions. Achievement goals and sportspersonship orientations influence doping intentions indirectly, through the effects of attitudes and self-efficacy beliefs. Sportspersonship (moral) orientations were relevant to doping intentions among athletes with no prior experiences with doping, while achievement goals and situational temptation were relevant to both lifetime never and ever dopers.