Psychological and behavioural factors of unintentional doping: A preliminary systematic review

King Chung Derwin CHAN, Tracy C.W. TANG, Daniel F. GUCCIARDI, Nikos NTOUMANIS, James A. DIMMOCK, Robert J. DONOVAN, Sarah J. HARDCASTLE, Martin S. HAGGER

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


In some cases, doping in sport is an intentional goal-directed behaviour, but research suggests that it might also occur accidentally when athletes inadvertently or unintentionally consume banned performance-enhancing drugs via food, supplements, or medication. Because research into the psychological factors of unintentional doping is still emerging, this paper aims to conduct a preliminary systematic review of all the existing literature concerning the psychology of unintentional doping in sport. The systematic review was carried out via an extensive search of Medline, PsycINFO, PsycTESTS, PsycARTICLES, and Web of Science, and reports from World Anti-Doping Agency. Among the 2110 articles identified from the search, six studies met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Evidence from these studies suggests that the avoidance of unintentional doping could be related to a number of behavioural, social, and psychological factors, such as athletes' conscious awareness of, and capacity to cope with, situations where they may be exposed to performance-enhancing substances. Motivational factors from self-determination theory, social-cognitive variables, and beliefs from the theory of planned behaviour, and trait self-control were also related to athletes' behaviours that contribute to the avoidance of unintentional doping. On the basis of this systematic review, we propose initial evidence-based suggestions that may support sport scientists, team doctors, and practitioners to implement interventions or educational programmes to increase athletes' awareness of, and ability to avoid, unintentional doping in sport. Copyright © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-295
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date14 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


Chan, D. K. C., Tang, T. C. W., Gucciardi, D. F., Ntoumanis, N., Dimmock, J. A., Donovan, R. J., . . . Hagger, M. S. (2020). Psychological and behavioural factors of unintentional doping: A preliminary systematic review. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 18(3), 273-295. doi: 10.1080/1612197X.2018.1450095


  • Anti-doping
  • Unintentional doping
  • Doping avoidance
  • Adverse analytical findings
  • Supplements


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