Drivers of illicit drug use regulation in Australian sport

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Journal Article
Sport Management Review, 2011, 14 (3), pp. 237 - 245
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Most Australian sport stakeholders not only believe that government regulation is a good thing, but also assume that intervention in the drug-use problem will improve sports social outcomes and operational integrity. In this paper we examine the regulation of illicit drug use in Australian sport through an interrogation of two cases: the Australian Football League and the National Rugby League. Using Pierre Bourdieus conceptual frames of social field, capital, and habitus, we aim to secure a clearer understanding of the drivers of Australian sports illicit drug regulations by (1) identifying those stakeholders who set the drug regulation agenda, (2) revealing the values and dispositions that underpin these regulations, and (3) explaining how dominant stakeholders go about sustaining their position and marginalising those stakeholders with opposing drug regulation claims. Our results show that Australian sports drug-use regulations are driven by a set of values and dispositions that views sport as an instrument for shaping the character of its participants, and drugs as a threat to sports moral fabric and good standing. The dominant stakeholders, comprising the Commonwealth Government, its sport agencies, and the major governing bodies for sport, imposed these values and dispositions on peripheral stakeholders by designing a drugs-in-sport social field that yielded capital and power to only those participants who endorsed these values and dispositions. Peripheral stakeholders including players, their agents, and drug-treatment professionals who mostly shared different values and dispositions, were sidelined, and denied the opportunity of adding to their already limited supplies of capital, power, and policy making influence.
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