One of the most important features of the present study was the finding that sport orientation is not strongly related to doping behaviour, or to doping attitude. The only exception was win orientation, which showed a significant relationship with doping attitude. Thus the importance of winning may have influenced what athletes think about doping, but it does not necessarily manifest in their behaviour. From the path coefficients, it was clear that athletes' desire to win, to achieve their personal goals or their competitive nature is not necessarily related to their decision regarding use of prohibited performance enhancements. None of the measures, except expressed belief, had a significant path to behaviour. Apparently, athletes using prohibited means of performance enhancements do not have to be overly competitive or win-orientated. They do not have to endorse such pharmaceutical agents, or agree with the use of such substances in order to actually use them. These findings seem to be congruent with conclusions that emerged from previous qualitative studies [46
] stating that doping is often viewed as a necessary means to an end. Many athletes claimed that they would prefer not to use drugs and would not do it if they were certain that the competition was drug-free. The paranoia about other competitors using performance enhancement is a reappearing theme in these papers. In addition, Anshel [72
] noted that athletes often feel an external pressure to win, most often in the form of warning about exceptionally good opponents. Hence, using doping agents may be more of a rational, outcome optimizing behaviour than deviance. If this is the case, sport governing bodies may do well if in addition to placing a ban on certain performace enhancing substances and methods, they provide athletes with acceptable alternatives.
The small negative (but not significant) relationship between goal orientation and doping behaviour was a logical connection because among the three sport orientation measures, goal orientation reflects an orientation to personal standards, regardless of the situation. The other two measures, desire to win and competitiveness reflect a tendency to enter and strive for success in a sport situation. Using banned performance enhancements in most athletes' view was expected to be against their standards as sportsmen. However, at the same time doping is often viewed as a means to an end; a 'tool' that is bad but necessary to ensure success in competition. Therefore, a positive relationship was expected. Of the two measures studied, competitiveness had a small but insignificant, positive path to doping behaviour, whilst winning practically showed no relationship at all. On the other hand, the only statistically significant relationship with sport orientation measures and other factors was between win orientation and doping attitude. Sport orientation and attitude appear to be similar constructs and distinctly different from behaviour. Athletes may think that doping is needed or not needed for winning but when it comes to actual behaviour, it might be influenced by other factors more than attitude or orientation.
This is not to say that personality, attitude, values should be discarded in order to make room for other factors. As probably no two individuals would react identically to the same combination of environmental factors, it is fair to assume that contextual contingencies are mediated through the combination of individual factors. Adherence to norms is a particularly difficult question. Decisions regarding doping use are influenced by at least two possibly competing norms: 1) the general social norms, such as fair play, condemnation of cheating and 2) the special norms held by the athletes' immediate subcultures as suggested by English [48
] particularly to competitive sport. When respondents completed the survey, they might feel compelled to consider the general social norms and offer a picture of a fair playing athlete. Athletes might answer in a particular way so they were seen as highly motivated, goal oriented individuals who understandably placed great importance on winning and achieving in a competitive situation (as the highly skewed sport orientation measures suggest) but despised unaccepted means of performance enhancement (again, mean score was rather low on doping attitude). The low correlation between the sport orientation and doping attitude measures and the Social Desirability scale gave some reassurance that the data were not contaminated badly by response bias but its effect warrants further investigation.
The non-significant path between doping attitude and behaviour was surprising. Instead of the practically zero regression weight, a small positive but significant relationship was expected. Although the Theory of Reasoned Action
] and Theory of Planned Behaviour
] suggest that beliefs form attitude before their effect on behaviour, results from this research showed a fairly strong and significant direct path from beliefs to behaviour. Mediating beliefs through attitude would only slightly increase the regression weight between doping attitude and behaviour but remained non-significant (β
= .446). One possible explanation for the strong path between belief and behaviour is justification. Those athletes who use doping or wish to use such performance enhancements would prefer to do so without social stigmatization. Such a view is in keeping with previous research where athletes expressed their view of doping as a necessary means to a desired end and whilst they acknowledge rule breaking behaviour, they do not consider themselves cheaters or more cheating than any other athlete [74
Follow-up research efforts should be directed toward finding additional components that may contribute to the doping model, such as drug attitude, morality, anxiety over performance, health concerns, and deterrent factors. Data collected via self-reports always pose limitations to the study owing to the undesirable but unavoidable effect of response bias (typically resulting in the under-reporting of socially undesirable behaviour). Modelling behavioural intentions in hypothetical situations instead of self-reported actual behaviour may help to reduce the effects of strategic responding. The appropriateness of testing via hypothetical situations is discussed in Strelan and Boeckmann's perceptual deterrence model paper [28
]. Alternatively, experimenting with implicit measures, as oppose to explicit self-declaration, may also provide a useful approach to doping behaviour reseach.
The relationship between doping belief and behaviour was significant, suggesting that investigating and quantifying belief might be a more fruitful approach in the future. Individual attitudes or actions, however, cannot be understood without taking the environmental context into consideration. The environmental effect is used in a broader sense, as it should include the culture (i.e. country) and subculture (i.e. sport), societal norms (i.e. values which society holds about sport and in general) but also the influence of other people (i.e. peers, coaches, family), alternative choices, and consequences of acting or not acting in a certain way.
Whilst the relationship between behavioural intention and behaviour is well established, moderating factors are less commonly used. Godin, Gagnë and Sheeran [75
] provided empirical evidence from meta-analysis of eight published health-related behavioural intention research for the importance of including moderating variables, such as perceived behavioural control (a combination of perceived difficulty and perceived control) and perceived power. Including these elements will further enhance the doping model.
Doping in varied cultures is perhaps viewed differently by the individual, his/her immediate social circle and broader society. The view of doping can even differ from one subgroup to another within the boundaries of sport. Therefore, testing for measurement invariance across groups (model's applicability to other groups, such as females, athletes from other nations or from different levels of sport involvement) should also be an important avenue to pursue in future research.