Is doping really a problem? How sponsors make sense of a sport with a dubious image

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Doping is claimed to create a negative image of sport, and of professional cycling in particular. Yet few studies have investigated interrelations between doping and sponsorships. Thus, this study aims to answer the question: How do company representatives make sense of sponsoring a sport like cycling with its dubious doping image? Theoretically informed by a sensemaking perspective and the strategy-as-practice approach, this interpretive study draws on sixteen semi-structured interviews with managers who, in the period between 1998 and 2016, were engaged in sponsoring professional Danish cycling. Findings reveal that cycling is more than just a sport with a dubious image as multiple frames such as sporting levels, existing business landscapes, personal interests and sport-for-all practices influence managers’ sensemaking. Furthermore, doping occasionally creates an advantage for sponsors. Accordingly, the study contributes to a research field dominated by quantitative marketing methodologies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1082-1097
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2022

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - Risks, Professional cycling, Sensemaking perspective, Strategy-as-practice, Sponsorship fit, Power, Critical management

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