This article concerns the legal issues that surround the prohibition of doping in sport. The current policy on the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in sport is underpinned by both a paternalistic desire to protect athletes’ health and the long-term integrity or ‘spirit’ of sport. The policy is put into administrative effect globally by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which provides the regulatory and legal framework through which the vast majority of international sports federations harmonise their anti-doping programmes. On outlining briefly both the broad administrative structures of international sport’s various anti-doping mechanisms, and specific legal issues that arise in disciplinary hearings involving athletes accused of doping, this article questions the sustainability of the current ‘zero tolerance’ approach, arguing, by way of analogy to the wider societal debate on the criminalisation of drugs, and as informed by Sunstein and Thaler’s theory of libertarian paternalism, that current policy on anti-doping has failed. Moreover, rather than the extant moral and punitive panic regarding doping in sport, this article, drawing respectively on Seddon’s and Simon’s work on the history of drugs and crime control mentality, contends that, as an alternative, harm reductionist measures should be promoted, including consideration of the medically supervised use of certain PEDs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas