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How Digital Fitness Forums Shape IPED Access, Use, and Community Harm Reduction Behaviours

aUniversity of Lincoln, UK
bUniversity of Hertfordshire, UK

Doping in Sport and Fitness

ISBN: 978-1-80117-158-8, eISBN: 978-1-80117-157-1

Publication date: 12 December 2022

Abstract

With digital spaces an increasing feature of our everyday lives, and the internet now a primary means of sourcing IPEDs and information regarding their use, this chapter seeks to understand how digital fitness forum communities shape the dissemination of culturally embedded harm reduction advice. Findings are drawn from two netnographic studies of fitness forums, which identify several key areas in which community norms and structures served to inform harm reduction behaviours. This included embedded forum reputation systems and the ways in which these shaped IPED access, including through elevating ‘expert’ users and encouraging informed discussion regarding product quality, to the emergence of steroid testing services from forums as a community harm reduction tool. Second, forums were observed to often encourage users to conduct research and inform themselves regarding safe use, though limitations to this norm were also documented in relation to poor-quality medical advice, highlighting the issues with IPED users' reliance on anecdotal advice in the contexts of prohibition. Finally, the role of digital fitness forums as ‘digital backstage’ is considered, examining both how this can be harmful to IPED users from excluded or ‘otherised’ groups, but simultaneously offers cultural participants the opportunity for airing vulnerabilities in a space where their masculine identity is not threatened in doing so, thus facilitating harm reduction among cultural ‘insiders’.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

Luke would like to thank Nick Gibbs for his advice regarding this chapter.

Honor would like to thank Anna Tippett for her input and advice regarding her original study.

Funding

Luke's research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Honor's research was undertaken as part of her University of Hertfordshire-funded PhD research. She did not receive any further specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Citation

Turnock, L.A. and Townshend, H.D. (2022), "How Digital Fitness Forums Shape IPED Access, Use, and Community Harm Reduction Behaviours", Henning, A. and Andreasson, J. (Ed.) Doping in Sport and Fitness (Research in the Sociology of Sport, Vol. 16), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 155-179. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1476-285420220000016009

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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