Using response-time latencies to measure athletes’ doping attitudes : the brief implicit attitude test identifies substance abuse in bodybuilders

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Bibliographic Details
Title translated into German:Verwendung von Antwortzeitverzögerungen, um die Doping-Einstellungen der Athleten zu messen : der kurze, implizite Haltungstest identifiziert Substanzmissbrauch unter Bodybuildern
Author:Brand, Ralf; Wolff, Wanja; Thieme, Detlef
Published in:Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy
Published:9 (2014), 1, Art.-ID 36; [10 S.], Lit.
Format: Publications (Database SPOLIT)
Publication Type: Journal article
Media type: Electronic resource (online)
Online Access:
Identification number:PU201708006135

Author's abstract

Background: Knowing and, if necessary, altering competitive athletes’ real attitudes towards the use of banned performance-enhancing substances is an important goal of worldwide doping prevention efforts. However athletes will not always be willing to reporting their real opinions. Reaction time-based attitude tests help conceal the ultimate goal of measurement from the participant and impede strategic answering. This study investigated how well a reaction time-based attitude test discriminated between athletes who were doping and those who were not. We investigated whether athletes whose urine samples were positive for at least one banned substance (dopers) evaluated doping more favorably than clean athletes (non-dopers).
Methods: We approached a group of 61 male competitive bodybuilders and collected urine samples for biochemical testing. The pictorial doping Brief Implicit Association Test (BIAT) was used for attitude measurement. This test quantifies the difference in response latencies (in milliseconds) to stimuli representing related concepts (i.e. doping–dislike/like–[health food]).
Results: Prohibited substances were found in 43% of all tested urine samples. Dopers had more lenient attitudes to doping than non-dopers (Hedges’s g = -0.76). D-scores greater than -0.57 (CI95 = -0.72 to -0.46) might be indicative of a rather lenient attitude to doping. In urine samples evidence of administration of combinations of substances, complementary administration of substances to treat side effects and use of stimulants to promote loss of body fat was common.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates that athletes’ attitudes to doping can be assessed indirectly with a reaction time-based test, and that their attitudes are related to their behavior. Although bodybuilders may be more willing to reveal their attitude to doping than other athletes, these results still provide evidence that the pictorial doping BIAT may be useful in athletes from other sports, perhaps as a complementary measure in evaluations of the effectiveness of doping prevention interventions.