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Governing (Their) Bodies: A Linguistic Perspective on the Deterrence vs. Education Debate within the Anti-doping Community

Dermot Heaney


Currently, a central debate within the anti-doping community concerns the balance between information used for the purposes of deterrence and/or education. Some experts in the field now claim that there has been overreliance on the former and that substantive educational strategies have not been implemented. Their argument is that the coercive orientation has failed to curb doping among athletes to the desired extent and that the time is ripe for a more educational approach in providing information to athletes about this issue, because in their view the only way to change attitudes to doping is through processes of reach-out, awareness-building and engagement. Despite the obvious centrality of language in the enterprise, be it in a coercive or educational spirit, there is an evident dearth of contributions from linguists to the debate. The following study considers the question from a linguistic perspective. To do this it adopts a corpus linguistic approach. Firstly, it draws on a corpus of anti-doping information available on the websites of five governing bodies and anti-doping agencies, using keyword analysis of lexis to assess the ratio of coercive to educational orientations within the data; secondly, using micro-analysis of the key function word category of pronominal reference, the study identifies both a coercive orientation and a commitment to interaction and engagement in the corpus of texts analysed.


anti-doping campaigns; corpus-assisted analysis; deterrence; education; function words; key words; lexis

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/lcm-2019-001-hean

Copyright (©) 2019 Dermot Heaney – Editorial format and Graphical layout: copyright (©) LED Edizioni Universitarie


Call for papers Vol 11 (2024) No 1 - Discourses, Methods and Practices of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging: Towards a Global Shared Framework
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