Doping Practices (“Social Science and Doping” group, Director: Patrick Trabal)

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Doping practices over time

“Doping and Temporality” ( a project financed by the MILDT and INSERM)

We wanted to study the consumption of doping products through interviewing sports- men and women who had used them at some point in their career. Through their life stories, we needed to study the time markers of their accounts in order to identify the circumstances in which the people had been encouraged to take these products. We want to describe how several products were taken (successively or simultaneously), what it meant for the people and finally study how they stopped taking them.

This is why we suggested setting up a series of interviews to list individual life paths, personal decision-making, the career of each actor, and identify the social context (pressure, sport and family circles, etc.) in which doping developed. We wanted to mobilize pragmatic sociology and linguistics to classify the time markers of the speech which, according to us, take on crucial importance. Words like “from now on”, “at a certain point”, “more and more” indicate the way actors deal with the constraints weighing them down, how they justify their acts, envisage the future, the risks, their uncertainties and their future. To do this we used the Prospero software which is designed to analyse texts very finely and for which we have developed a few specific functions for the investigation of interviews. Generated by the contributions of multiple theoretical fields (linguistics and the philosophy of language, artificial intelligence, network analysis and cognitive sociology), this tool – which has already been used to analyse health hazards – helped us list the breaks in the actors’ biographies and to analyse junctions, turning points and crucial moments in the consumption of doping products.

As a consequence, this project made it possible to understand how the consumption of the various types of products progressed over time, but also to mobilize new technologies in favour of social science, to build up a large corpus of qualitative data and to group researchers together around this empirical material, in particular through the creation of the seminar called “social science and doping”.

The report:
  • LE NOE O., TRABAL P., 2008, « Sportifs et produits dopants : prise, emprise, déprise », Drogues, santé, société,  vol. 7, n° 1, 2008, p. 191-236. (Text on line)

Debates around doping practices

“The analysis of Internet forums to understand doping practices” (project financed by the french Ministry in charge of Sports)

Within the framework of the tender named “Doping and doping behaviours in sport: speed up research to improve the pertinence of intervention in terms of prevention and care” (Ministry of Health and Sports, 2008), the Social Science and Doping group carried out a study entitled “The analysis of Internet forums to improve the prevention of doping”.

This study consisted in selecting – in partnership with the Ministry – three websites where messages regarding doping are exchanged and in mobilizing the latest developments in socio-computing to analyse over 244.000 messages with the help of a software. A large part of this study was dedicated to indexing and codifying the specific “language” used in electronic exchanges and it seemed appropriate to benefit from this heavy investment.
The outcomes of this research encouraged the pursuit of the study, taking seriously the doubts expressed by Internet users, identifying new levers in prevention actions, relying on the dynamics of debate about doping to communicate messages regarding the protection of the sports- men and women’s health.

The report :

Publication :
  • TRABAL P., Et si les sportifs voulaient "bien faire" ?. Article en Portugais : "E se os esportistas que se dopam quisessem
    "fazer direito"?", Movimento, Porto Alegre, v. 19, n. 04, p. 11-43. [Text on line portuguese version / french version]. 

Accounts about doping practices

An analysis of autobiographies

Within the framework of his Doctorate thesis about cycling, Sébastien Buisine worked on a corpus of autobiographies which are very revealing as regards doping.


Updated on 20 février 2015