Explaining elite athletes’ corruption behaviours: a comparative analysis of doping and match fixing

Stacie Jade Gray, R. Porreca

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Through a qualitative application of the theory of planned behaviour, the research aimed to increase understanding of elite athletes’ reasons behind intentional and actual doping and match fixing. Adopting a descriptive phenomenological approach, media interviews, admission statements and testimonies from dopers and match fixers were analysed using deductive content analysis. The final sample comprised 21 elite athlete match fixers from 15 nations and 33 elite athlete dopers from 10 nations. Whilst all three theories of planar behaviour variables were found to influence doping, only attitudinal and subjective normative beliefs influenced match fixing. Despite some similarities between doping and match fixing themes, differences exist between the primary corruption motives and unique doping attitudes emerged. By identifying the reasons behind elite athletes’ engagement in corruption the results can be used to better inform the design of preventative doping and match fixing strategies within elite sport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-92
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Issue number1
Early online date4 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.


  • Corruption
  • doping
  • elite sport
  • match fixing
  • theory of planned behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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