It doesn’t seem a day goes by in sports news without the discovery of a team or athlete doping in professional sports. using performance enhancing drugs or practices.
The International Association of Athletics Federations has extended the ban on Russian track and field athletes from competing in the Olympic Games in Rio. Maria Sharapova admitted to doping and is hoping to appeal her ban from tennis.
In a culture where athletes are revered, as a society, how much do we trust that the competitors aren’t engaging illegal doping practices?
We asked the following question to 2,769 people from June 19 to June 27. The results are as follows:
56% of those polled took the middle ground, agreeing that some (maybe half) of professional athletes use performance enhancing drugs. Those who selected this response are less likely to be parents or grandparents. People who live in the suburbs are more likely to choose this answer.
In regards to sports and entertainment, those who answered Some athletes engage in some form of illegal performance-enhancing practice are more apt to follow the MLB and college football closely.
The second most popular response Most athletes engage in some type of illegal performance-enhancing practice received 29%. People who believe most athletes use performance enhancing drugs are more likely to live in a rural area and be college graduates. Also, those who selected this answer are less likely to follow the NBA closely.
The 15% who responded that very few athletes are doping, were more likely to be city dwellers in the US South. Interestingly enough, those who selected this response are more apt to follow the NBA closely.
It’s not a new concept that people are using performance enhancing drugs or practices to cheat. What is interesting is that the majority polled recognize this as an issue beyond just a few professional athletes.
The “some” response, implying around 50%, gained the most responses, and the “most” response, indicating a majority, wasn’t too far behind. While we outwardly recognize this as an issue in both national and international sports, our reaction to the question seems to be a disconnect between the way we treat athletes and sports as a society.
What’s worth noting is the sports each response group is more likely to follow. If our beliefs are informed by the media we consume, it makes sense that those who follow baseball would believe the practice is more prevalent than those who follow sports with lower incidents of doping.
Overall, doping in sports is a thorny topic, but clearly, one that is publicly recognized. Being that the issue is an open secret, it’s about time, major sports organizations start discussing it in public.
While the IAAF’s ruling against Russia’s athletes in the Olympics may seem harsh, at least it’s bringing the issue into the public eye, and setting a precedent against doping on an international scale.