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Professor Sue Backhouse - University Alliance. Leeds, England, GB

Professor Sue Backhouse Professor Sue Backhouse

Professor of Sport Psychology and Behavioural Nutrition | Leeds Beckett University

Leeds, England, UNITED KINGDOM

Her particular expertise is in athlete welfare, drug use in sport, why athletes dope, what makes athletes vulnerable to doping and more.

Areas of Expertise (7)


Drug Use in Sport

Sports Integrity

Athlete Welfare

Clean Sport


Sport Psychology and Performance Enhancement


Professor Sue Backhouse is Professor of Sport Psychology and Behavioural Nutrition, and Director of Research in the Carnegie School of Sport at Leeds Beckett University.

Sue is an internationally recognised expert on anti-doping and her research focuses on developing a better understanding of the complexity of doping and clean sport behaviours in order to develop effective anti-doping policy and practice. Recent projects include a World Anti-Doping Agency funded project on reporting doping in sport and a European Commission funded project to establish the Clean Sport Alliance (www.cleansportalliance.org).

Sue is a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Social Science Expert Advisory Group, an Expert Member of the English Institute of Sport Technical Steering Panel, Co-founder of the Clean Sport Alliance and Convenor of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Science’s Clean Sport Interest Group. She has examined integrity and welfare issues across a range of sports and worked with the World Anti-Doping Agency, International Olympic Committee, Institute of National Anti-Doping Organisations, the Rugby Football Union and Sport Ireland. Sue established the Protecting Sporting Integrity and Welfare (PROSPER) research team at Leeds Beckett University (https://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/research/centre-for-human-performance/sporting-integrity-and-welfare/).

Media Mentions (6)

Global sports anti-doping conference being led by Leeds Beckett University

Yorkshire Evening Post  online


Athletes are taking part in a global anti-doping conference being led by Leeds Beckett University this week.

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Yorkshire at the forefront in beating doping in sport

Yorkshire Post  online


Professor Sue Backhouse, report co-author and director of research at the Carnegie School of Sport at Leeds Beckett, said Wada now needed to develop better policies to encourage the reporting of doping.

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Negative backlash for reporting doping the biggest barrier for potential whistleblowers, study finds

Cycling Weekly  online


Being negatively labelled for reporting doping is the biggest barrier for potential whistleblowers to come forward, a new study by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has found.

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Survey shows many potential doping whistleblowers unsure where to turn

The Guardian  online


Professor Sue Backhouse, director of research at the Carnegie School of Sport at Leeds Beckett, also hoped the study would lay the foundations for Wada to develop better policies to encourage the reporting of doping.

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Whistleblowing: athletes shouldn’t have to choose between their careers and the truth

The Conversation  online


Athletes should not feel like they have to choose between their careers or telling the truth about doping in sport. Yet, our new research shows that this is (too) often the reality for many involved in the sporting world. Telling the truth isn’t always rewarded. Instead, speaking up – whistleblowing – is too often followed by retribution.

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Whistleblowers reluctant to betray friends, says report

Indian Express  online


A research fellow at Leeds-Beckett University in Yorkshire, England, said her research highlighted how student athletes do want a clean sport but are reluctant to inform on friends or rivals

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Multimedia Appearances





Lightning lectures: Uncovering the complexity of doping in sport The Future of Anti-Doping Blowing the whistle on doping in sport



Industry Expertise (3)


Sport - Amateur

Sport - Professional

Accomplishments (1)

Esteem (professional)

Sue is a Fellow of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (FBASES), Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (AFBPsS) and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Authority.

Education (2)

Loughborough University: Ph.D., Sport & Exercise Science 2004

Loughborough University: B.Sc., Physical Education and Sports Science 2000

Affiliations (4)

  • Member of the World Anti-Doping Agency Social Science Research Panel
  • Co-founder of the Clean Sport Alliance
  • Chartered Member of the British Psychological Society (BPS) Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology.
  • Registered with the Health Professions Council (HCPS) as a Practitioner Sport and Exercise Psychologist.

Languages (1)

  • English

Articles (6)

Tackling doping in sport: a call to take action on the dopogenic environment

British Journal of Sports Medicine

Backhouse S.H., Griffiths C, McKenna, J.

2017 In calling to take action on the dopogenic environment, the authors are seeking to move beyond the blame and shame associated with doping in sport, to recognise the behaviour as a consequence of environmental conditions and opportunities and not just the result of poor personal choice.

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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

British Journal of Sports Medicine

• Ntoumanis N, Quested E, Patterson L, Kaffe, S., Backhouse, S.H., Pavlidis, G., Whitaker, L., Barkoukis, V., Smith, B.J., Staff, H. & Gucciardi, D.J.

2020 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.

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‘Clean athlete status’ cannot be certified: Calling for caution, evidence and transparency in ‘alternative’ anti-doping systems

International Journal of Drug Policy

Petróczi, A., Backhouse, S.H., Boardley, I.D., Saugy, M., Pitsiladis, Y., Viret, M., Ioannidis, G., Ohl, F., Loland, S., & McNamee, M.


Athletes, sponsors and sport organisations all have a vested interest in upholding the values of clean sport. Despite the considerable and concerted efforts of the global anti-doping system over two decades, the present system is imperfect.

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A systematic review of research into coach perspectives and behaviours regarding doping and anti-doping

Psychology of Sport and Exercise

2020 Doping threatens the integrity of sport and the health and wellbeing of athletes. Operating as both a risk and protective agent, coaches may influence athletes’ (anti-)doping thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

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Athlete perspectives on the enablers and barriers to nutritional adherence in high-performance sport

Psychology of Sport and Exercise

• Bentley, M. R. N., Patterson, L., Mitchell, N., and Backhouse, S. H.

2020 Poor adherence to nutritional guidance by athletes may compromise their health and performance. Enhancing adherence is therefore an important performance and welfare strategy. The findings of this study present a number of significant implications for athlete support personnel seeking to enhance performance in demanding sporting contexts. Recommendations include the need to 1) train and educate sports nutritionists in human behaviour, 2) update regulations for sports nutrition profession practice to acknowledge the skills required to support athletes' emotional wellbeing, 3), educate coaches on the sensitivity of body weight and composition and develop guidelines for monitoring athletes' body weight and composition in sport, 4) persuade influential leaders to develop culture guidelines that shift the performance-narrative of high-performance (i.e., environmental restructuring).

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Understanding and building clean(er) sport together: Community-based participatory research with elite athletes and anti-doping organisations from five European countries

Psychology of Sport and Exercise

AndreaPetróczi, AndrewHeyes, Sam N.Thrower, Laura A.Martinelli, Susan H.Backhouse, Ian D.Boardley, The RESPECT Consortium


In sport the narrative is changing from anti-doping to clean sport. Yet, our understanding of what ‘clean sport’ means to athletes is notably absent from the literature. Working together with elite athletes and National Anti-Doping Organisations, this study addressed this gap by exploring the meaning and importance of ‘clean sport’ and ‘clean athlete identity’.

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