chapter  1
26 Pages

Introduction

When the extraordinary is normal, deviance is good
WithChristophe Brissonneau, Montez de Oca Jeffrey

Chapter 1 provides a broad overview of Doping in Elite Sport and introduces a symbolic interactionist approach. Drawing on Howard Becker’s theory of deviance devised in Outsiders (1963), we argue that the elite sportsperson who uses banned drugs is the result of a long-term socialising process that stretches across their sports career. We further argue that ‘doping’ is not a stable term. Instead, its meaning results from political debates and reveals the power of ‘moral entrepreneurs’ to define certain products as cheating and therefore immoral. Moreover, since elite sportspeople use a huge range of pharmacological products in order to quickly recover from fatigue and injury but only certain products are banned, ‘doping’ itself is a moral term that labels certain sportspeople as deviants. In addition to explaining our methodology and outlining our interpretive approach, we schematise our model of an ‘elite sports career’ that unfolds across the life history of an elite sportsperson as they move from the early stages of an amateur career to the highest levels of elite sport.