An interdisciplinary approach in identifying the legitimate regulator of anti-doping in sport: The case of the Australian Football League

Lisa Gowthorp*, Annette Greenhow, Danny O'Brien

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
108 Downloads (Pure)


The regulation of anti-doping practices in Australian sport is overseen by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), which is a statutory authority funded by the Australian Commonwealth Government (ACG). The 2013 ASADA investigation into the Essendon Football Club (EFC) uncovered the alleged use of performance and image enhancing drugs by a number of players and support personnel. However, despite the call for sanctions to be placed on those taking banned substances, ASADA itself became the central focus of enquiry with the EFC questioning the legitimacy of ASADA's authority in their management of the investigation. Using content analysis and Bourdieu's conceptual framework, this paper aims to determine the legitimate regulatory authority of key actors involved in the EFC investigation. The findings suggest actors in the social field, as related to the case of the EFC investigation, possess varying amounts and types of capital, which cumulatively convert to symbolic capital. Dominant actors within the social field retain more symbolic capital than others and are perceived to possess legitimate regulatory authority, which does not translate to actual legal authority. This apparent disconnect between perceived authority on the one hand and actual legal legitimacy on the other has implications for the future management of such cases, both in the Australian Football League and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-60
Number of pages13
JournalSport Management Review
Issue number1
Early online date31 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


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