Erickson and Co-Workers Explained:
“The ripples are big.” Storying the impact of doping in sport beyond the sanctioned athlete.
Reference: Erickson, K and Backhouse, SH and Carless, D (2016) "The ripples are big": Storying the impact of doping in sport beyond the sanctioned athlete. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 24. 92 - 99.
What were the research questions?Qualitatively address this gap in the literature by:
- providing a platform for elite ‘clean athletes’ to share their personal experiences in relation to doping in sport
- raising the voices of ‘clean athletes’ who have been personally affected by others’ use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED) in sport
- highlighting the potential ripple effect (i.e. direct/indirect impact on subsequent events/situations/people) that PED use in sport can have.
How was the scientific problem approached?
- 4 athletes from multiple countries agreed to participate
- Face-to-face interviews (average length = 82 minutes), unstructured/conversational. Only 1 structured question was used: “How have you been personally affected by others’ use of PEDs?”
- All interviews were audio recorded and transcribed
How did the researchers interpret their results?
- Storytelling approach, use of Creative Nonfiction (CNF) to represent the data
- While the retired athletes seemed to be telling stories from the perspective of ‘looking back’; the competing athletes shared stories with a ‘future focus’. Two stories would be created rather than one in order to represent these two diverging accounts
- Direct quotes were maintained from the interview transcripts as much as possible to preserve each of the individuals’ spoken words
- the experiences and ideas contained in the narrative skeletons were linked together by writing around them so that a full and flowing representation of the combined stories was produced.
Creative nonfiction in research
- There are three types of CNF: (1) portrait, (2) snapshot, and (3) composite. Portrait CNF demonstrates an individual’s character and voice; snapshot CNF provides a description of what was observed in a situation; and, composite CNF combines the stories of multiple individuals into one (Blodgett et al., 2011).
- CNF stories do not tell readers how to think or feel about something, nor what emotions should be aroused; they present the experiences of individuals as they experienced them, with as little altering and/or editing as possible
- A central element of CNF is the use of many techniques of fiction (e.g. contextualised, vernacular language; composite characters; dialogue; metaphor; allusions; flashbacks and flash forwards; tone shifts, etc.) to communicate results in compelling and emotionally vibrant ways (Smith, 2013).
What did they find?
- Doping does not only affect the individual doping athlete; on the contrary, the use of PEDs can – and does – have consequences for numerous individuals, teams, organisations, sports, and even nations. Likewise, the duration of the impact is not static; it can linger long after an athlete’s sport career ends.
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