Decisional trade-offs towards doping and their association with moral attitudes and health risk perceptions: A mixed methods study

Lambros Lazuras, Dara Mojtahedi, Mathew Hillier, Michael Petrou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of the present research was to examine doping-related decisional trade-offs, and their relationship with health risk perceptions towards doping and moral attitudes in sport. A mixed methods sequential-explanatory design was used. In Study 1,249, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) athletes from 16 countries completed anonymous online questionnaires on decisional trade-offs related to doping, health risk beliefs towards doping, moral attitudes in sport, and socio-demographic variables. The results showed that almost 1 in 10 athletes would trade their life for sporting success, independently of the moral implications of their choice. When mortal threat was absent, 31.5% of the athletes would trade morality for sporting success. Decisional trade-off choices differentiated scores in moral attitudes, such as acceptance of cheating and keeping winning in proportion. In Study 2, 11 British competitive MMA athletes were interviewed about decisional trade-offs involving moral violations or mortal threats. Thematic analysis corroborated the Study 1 findings, with most athletes dismissing the doping choice involving a mortal threat but endorsing the one where the mortal threat was absent. Anti-doping education in MMA athletes should target the decision-making process underlying doping, with an emphasis on moral values and the adverse health risk effects of doping.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)676-687
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number8
Early online date6 Jun 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2024
Externally publishedYes

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