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An intervention to optimise coach-created motivational climates and reduce athlete willingness to dope (CoachMADE): a three-country cluster randomised controlled trial
  1. Nikos Ntoumanis1,
  2. Eleanor Quested1,
  3. Laurie Patterson2,
  4. Stella Kaffe3,
  5. Susan H Backhouse2,
  6. George Pavlidis4,
  7. Lisa Whitaker5,
  8. Vassilis Barkoukis3,
  9. Brendan J Smith1,
  10. Helen R Staff2,
  11. Daniel F Gucciardi6
  1. 1School of Psychology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  2. 2Carnegie School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK
  3. 3Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
  4. 4Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Linköping University, Linkoping, Sweden
  5. 5UK Coaching, Leeds, UK
  6. 6School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Nikos Ntoumanis, School of Psychology, Curtin University, Perth, WA 6102, Australia; nikos.ntoumanis{at}


Objectives Coach-centred antidoping education is scarce. We tested the efficacy of a motivationally informed antidoping intervention for coaches, with their athletes’ willingness to dope as the primary outcome.

Methods We delivered a cluster randomised controlled trial in Australia, the UK and Greece. This study was a parallel group, two-condition, superiority trial. Participants were 130 coaches and 919 athletes. Coaches in the intervention group attended two workshops and received supplementary information to support them in adopting a motivationally supportive communication style when discussing doping-related issues with their athletes. Coaches in the control condition attended a standard antidoping workshop that provided up-to-date information on antidoping issues yet excluded any motivation-related content. Assessments of willingness to dope (primary outcome) and other secondary outcomes were taken at baseline, postintervention (3 months) and at a 2-month follow up.

Results Compared with athletes in the control group, athletes in the intervention group reported greater reductions in willingness to take prohibited substances (effect size g=0.17) and psychological need frustration (g=0.23) at postintervention, and greater increases in antidoping knowledge (g=0.27) at follow-up. Coaches in the intervention group reported at postintervention greater increases in efficacy to create an antidoping culture (g=0.40) and in perceived effectiveness of need supporting behaviours (g=0.45) to deal with doping-related situations. They also reported greater decreases in doping attitudes (g=0.24) and perceived effectiveness of need thwarting behaviours (g=0.35).

Conclusions Antidoping education programmes should consider incorporating principles of motivation, as these could be beneficial to coaches and their athletes. We offer suggestions to strengthen these programmes, as most of the effects we observed were not sustained at follow-up.

Trial registration number This trial has been registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (

  • doping
  • education
  • intervention
  • randomised controlled trial

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  • Twitter @NikosNtoumanis, @susanbackhouse, @DanielGucciardi

  • Contributors NN, DFG, SHB, VB, EQ and LP conceived the project and obtained the project funding. EQ, NN, LW, LP and SHB contributed to the development of the intervention materials. GP, SK and VB translated all material in Greek. BJS, LW, HRS, GP and SK managed the project on a daily basis in the three countries and coordinated data collection. NN and DFG wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors contributed to the refinement of the manuscript and approved the final version.

  • Funding This project was supported by funding from the International Olympic Committee. The International Olympic Committee had no authority in the study design, collection, management, analysis or interpretation of the data.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research. Refer to the Methods section for further details.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the Ethics Committees of all participating universities and all participants signed a consent form.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request. Deidentified participant SPSS data file and Mplus code for all analyses conducted are available from Nikos Ntoumanis ( or Daniel Gucciardi ( Interested parties need to explain why and how they are planning to reuse the data.

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