Anti-doping Policies: Choosing Between Imperfections

  • Bengt KayserEmail author
  • Barbara Broers
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 52)


In this chapter we suggest an alternative way of dealing with the problem of doping in sports. We find that today’s anti-doping policies are excessive, mostly driven by ideology and political convenience, ethically problematic, insufficiently effective, costly, and are possibly leading to more harm to society than they prevent. Anti-doping cannot achieve its declared objective (eradication of doping) since it cannot overcome the strong pressure towards winning at all cost and the limited effectiveness of surveillance. We think that the discussions on doping and anti-doping should not ignore the imperfect practical outcomes of current anti-doping policies, in elite, amateur and outside sports. Today’s anti-doping is not a solution, but an increasingly costly imperfection. We do not claim to know a way to an ultimate solution, simply because none exists, but we propose to consider a pragmatic utilitarian alternative respecting public health and ethical principles. We do this by drawing parallels between current anti-doping efforts and the ‘war on drugs’. Instead of an increasingly repressive anti-doping policy based on zero-tolerance with negative side effects, we propose to discuss another imperfection, one that might come with a reduced cost to the individual and society as compared to today’s imperfection, and that is based on regulation and harm minimisation.


Organize Crime Psychotropic Drug Elite Athlete International Olympic Committee Elite Sport 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Movement Sciences and Sports Medicine, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  2. 2.Unit for Dependency in Primary Care, Department of Community Health and Primary CareUniversity Hospitals of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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