Sociological Explanation for Doping

Sociological Explanation for Doping

Juicing, formally known as doping, refers to the act of illegally using performance enhancing substances to help a person do better in a sporting event (Doping, 2013). Doping mostly happens in professional sports where the financial benefits of winning are high and the athletes are under pressure from their teams, organizations, countries and teammates to perform exceptionally well. Some analysts argue that athletes dope because the drugs provide a visible and almost immediate effect on performance and because more athletes have gotten away with “juicing” than those who have been caught (Joyner, 2013). Recently, a number of major doping scandals have rocked the sporting world. They include doping revelations regarding Lance Armstrong (seven times Tour de France champion and cancer survivor), Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz (all major league baseball stars) (Joyner, 2013).When using sociological imagination, Wright Mills’ concepts can help explain the juicing culture within athletes and explain why the professionals often feel the need to use the drugs when playing.

Wright Mills is one of the most famous people in the field of sociology. He formulated theories and concepts that doctors and specialists in the field still revere and apply to this day. Wright Mills’ views on moral insensibility can help explain the reasons why athletes dope. Mills explains that people no longer feel any moral constraint because they are primarily guided by the orders of others. The actions that we engage in are not individual actions, but a part of our roles within the organizations in society (Elwell, 2002). Athletes do not just compete for their own sake, they also compete as part of a team or a larger organization such as a country. The pressure on the players to perform comes from a wide range of sources starting from the fans and the supporters and leading up to the owners of the teams and organizations. This means that the players’ actions of winning on behalf of the organization can be equated to the actions of a person working under orders from a larger company or group. This pressure to match up to the expectations of all the parties involved in the different sport makes the athletes lose their moral insensibilities and end up juicing.

Mills’ views on elites can also explain the habit of doping in athletes. Mills believed that there was a growing elite in society that controlled all of the major institutions and organizations. These elites are in charge of entities such as the military and the government. By occupying leadership positions in companies, the elite legitimized their power and were able to control society more effectively than the masses (Elwell, 2002). In the world of sport, the players are part of large clubs, teams and organizations, which wield a lot of power and control. These organizations control the players and the bodies that are meant to govern the sports. Some of these organizations are willing to let players dope if it means that they will get the result that they want. For some, doping guarantees them a larger amount of money, while for others excellent performances by the sport’s stars helps to promote the sport, bringing in more fans and raising the revenue that the organizations collect. Looking at doping from this perspective would imply that juicing would never stop unless the sporting competitions were no longer worth billions of dollars making the powerful organizations lose interest.

            Wright Mills’ ideas on sociological imagination mainly revolved around the use of sociological arguments and perspectives to explain phenomena in society. Sociologists can apply these concepts in a wide range of areas such as the workplace, schools, government among others. In the context of sports, sociological concepts can help explain issues such as doping, which have dogged various sports for decades. Using sociology to analyze the problem can help explain key issues such as the source of the problem and possible recommendations or solutions. Some concepts help narrow down the problem to the pressure generated by the culture of the sporting world, with the fans, clubs, teams, coaching staff and team owners demanding results. Other concepts single out the elites in the system as a key cause of the issue. This shows that sociological imagination can be a powerful tool for analyzing the issues affecting society today.



Doping. (2013). In Retrieved from

Elwell, F.W. (2002). The sociology of C. Wright Mills. Retrieved from

Joyner, M.J. (2013, August 13). The real reason athletes dope. Outside Online. Retrieved from


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