Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 443–453 | Cite as

The Landscape of the “Spirit of Sport”

A Systematic Review
  • Mojisola Obasa
  • Pascal BorryEmail author
Original Research


The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) sets out a detailed description of what its own conception of the “spirit of sport” as employed in the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC) entails. However, controversies as to the significance and meaning to be ascribed to the term abound in the literature. In order to unravel the core of the debates and to move discussions forward, the authors aimed at reviewing understandings of the spirit of sport in the conceptual literature. The main databases were searched using relevant keywords. After the inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied, eighteen publications were included in the review. The most striking result to emerge from the data is the multivalence of the concept of spirit of sport. Our thematic analysis generated the contestability of the spirit of sport as the predominant theme in the conceptual literature. There is a need for empirical research to generate data about perspectives on the spirit of sport from other stakeholders especially those of the athletes themselves.


Anti-doping Spirit of sport Anti-doping policy Performance enhancement 



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Copyright information

© Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law, Department of Public Health and Primary CareKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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