The Phenomenon of Anti-Doping Policy Legitimacy in the Social Psychology of Sports



Anti-doping represents a global system where an athlete is in the center of a control and regulations. The perception of legitimacy is important for compliance with rules and regulation within the anti-doping system. However, the concept of legitimacy in anti-doping is not sufficiently defined, which makes it difficult to develop psychodiagnostic tools for its assessment within the framework of relevant psychological theories. The aim of this study is to review psychological literature on legitimacy perception and identify a framework within which legitimacy can be studied in anti-doping area. Reviewed data were structured by three categories of legitimacy: “proper”, “just” and “appropriate” and a respective matrix for a focus group interview had been developed. Four focus-group interviews had been conducted among Russian competitive athletes (N=22). The focus-group interviews revealed three main themes: trust to anti-doping organizations, equal and transparent anti-doping rules and possibility for athletes to influence anti-doping policy. Legitimacy of anti-doping is an important psychological construct that may be operationalized through the perception that anti-doping is functioning proper, just and appropriate. In addition, athletes voiced their concerns on the transparent and equal implementation of the anti-doping rules and possibility to influence anti-doping policy.

General Information

Keywords: legitimacy, perception, anti-doping policy, sport psychology, focus group

Journal rubric: Empirical Research

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The reported study was funded by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), project no. 19-113-50267

For citation: Bondarev D.V., Bochaver K.A., Barkoukis V. The Phenomenon of Anti-Doping Policy Legitimacy in the Social Psychology of Sports [Elektronnyi resurs]. Klinicheskaia i spetsial'naia psikhologiia = Clinical Psychology and Special Education, 2021. Vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 100–131. DOI: 10.17759/cpse.2021100106. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Dmitriy V. Bondarev, PhD, researcher, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland, ORCID:, e-mail:

Konstantin A. Bochaver, PhD in Psychology, assistant professor at the psychology chair, head of sport psychology laboratory, Moscow Institute of Psychoanalysis, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Vassilis Barkoukis, PhD, Associate Professor of the Department of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, ORCID:, e-mail:



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