The Compliance-legitimacy Gap in the World Anti-doping Agency’s Education Strategy: Voices From Oceania


The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) ‘one size fits all’ approach to anti-doping education falls short because it fails to take account of key differences in social and cultural contexts. Much of the existing research remains focused on athletes and nations in the global north, with little attention to regions like Oceania. The objective was to learn how stakeholders in Oceania perceive WADA’s legitimacy, and to understand the factors that influence perceptions of the system. We apply a legitimacy-inspired lens to anti-doping governance to consider cross-cultural understandings of anti-doping regulations and the impact on perceptions of WADA’s legitimacy. Data were collected using semi-structured in-depth interviews (33), with athletes, support personnel, and administrators in Olympic and professional sports across Oceania. Grounded theory and inductive thematic analysis were used to identify themes. There is general agreement that WADA’s anti-doping framework is important to maintain integrity in sport. We found that stakeholders in Oceania wanted to comply but had difficulty doing so. This was from a combination of time poverty, technological barriers, lack of expertise and a belief that doping was not a threat in Oceania. Our findings emphasise that culturally based perceptions and interpretations must be factored into the design and implementation of policies and regulations, and how compliance is monitored. The results show that there is a legitimacy – compliance gap, stakeholders wish to support anti-doping but are unable to in practice. Consequently, WADA, Federations and National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs) need to rethink their approach to enabling compliance.


James Connor
Associate Professor, School of Business, University of New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Vanessa Mc Dermott
Senior Lecturer, School of Business, UNSW Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Sport and Health


Education, Legitimacy, WADA, Anti-Doping, Compliance

Digital Media


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