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Framing Narratives of Doping and Disgrace

Abstract: This chapter sets out the theoretical framework used in the study. This draws upon Erving Goffmans accounts of self-presentation and the management of stigma and ‘spoiled identity’. Alongside Goffman, it borrows from Sykes and Matzas influential account of ‘techniques of neutralisation’ - resources used to manage the consequences of being accused or labelled as delinquent and deviant. Then, it introduces readers to the athletes whose stories will provide the focus of discussion in subsequent chapters - sprinters Marion Jones and Dwain Chambers, and pro cyclists Tyler Hamilton, David Miller and Lance Armstrong.

Yar, Majid. Crime, Deviance and Doping: Fallen Sports Stars, Autobiography and the Management of Stigma. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. doi: 10.1057/9781137403759.0005.

In the first chapter, we overviewed some important issues that inform the analysis offered in this study - the intersections between crime and sport, the study of doping and drug-use, the cultural significance of sporting celebrity and its relation with scandal, and the uses of autobiographical analysis in better understanding how fallen sports stars respond through story-telling to their public travails. Here I will set the stage for the analysis of autobiographies that follows in subsequent chapters.

Two main aims organise this chapter. First, it will set out the theoretical framework used in the study. This draws upon Erving Goffmans accounts of self-presentation and the management of stigma and ‘spoiled identity’. I relate and adapt Goffmans analysis to the kinds of mass- mediated and widely publicised scandals that emerge around doping sports stars, and which set the stage for their exculpatory self-narratives. Particular attention is also paid to Thomas Scheff’s (2006) development of Goffmans sociology, which emphasises the importance of shame as a pivotal emotion that shapes the public contours of the self. Alongside Goffman, I draw upon Sykes and Matza’s influential account of ‘techniques of neutralisation’ - resources used to manage the consequences of being accused or labelled as delinquent and deviant. Taken together, these perspectives provide the conceptual foundations for the analysis of autobiographical narratives that follows.

Second, as a preliminary to narrative analysis, it will introduce readers to the athletes whose stories will provide the focus of discussion - sprinters Marion Jones and Dwain Chambers, and pro cyclists Tyler Hamilton, David Miller and Lance Armstrong. Readers may be familiar with their biography and careers in varying degrees (or perhaps not at all, if they do not follow the sports of track & field or cycling). Therefore, I will set out some information that will help contextualise the detailed analysis of their self-narratives that follows.

 
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