The Difficulties of Implementing Anti-Doping Policy

In document Better, Stronger, Faster Explaining the Variance Between Professional and Amateur Anti Doping Policies (Page 65-70)

Also relevant to this paper is an explanation of the obstacles that have hindered the implementation of anti-doping policy. This grants insight to the logic used by various

sports associations when creating anti-doping policy. Obstacles such as international politics, finance, legality, and definitions have all influenced how anti-doping policy is created and sculpted.

Sluggish Adoption of Policy: the Cold War

Richard Pound of WADA says the adoption of anti-doping policy was sluggish because of its link to international relations. During the Cold War, anti-doping policy was neglected because no country wanted to offend another by accusing them of doping or cheating. Because of the diplomatic tensions of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war, regulators thought it was best to ignore doping; however, ignoring the problem during the Cold War has made implementing policy much more difficult at present. Even though a well-meaning anti-doping policy was in place during the 1960s, doping was allowed to remain largely unbridled until the 1990s. Pound states, “We looked the other way, and it [the PES problem] snowballed” (Pound in Sokolove 2004: 33).

Reluctance of Professional Sports to Adopt Anti-Doping Policy

A second complication in successfully implementing anti-doping policy is the lack of cooperation by professional sports associations to adopt and police new anti- doping legislation. Although this is highly visible in leagues like MLB, it happens even at the Olympic level; nine-time U.S. Olympic gold medallist Carl Lewis stated in 1999:

Federations at every level are covering up drugs and covering up for people…it’s a joke. It’s a credibility factor and it starts at the top. Sadly enough, America is right in the middle of it… The commitment to find drugs is not there. There are much better ways to test than they are doing, but . . . they don’t want to catch anyone in the first place (Lewis in McCloskey & Bailes 2005: 38).

The reason for neglect is two-fold: scandal is not good for sport; and, PESs allow athletes the ability to perform at more super-human levels, which is the reason why many spectators watch sport. The Federal Government is currently addressing the reluctance of professional sports associations to enforce anti-doping policy.

Conflicting Legal Status of PESs

The ambiguous legal status of PESs in America creates problems for regulations. Carroll explains:

In some states, such as Rhode Island, both AAS and growth hormone are controlled substances. Pennsylvania, on the other hand, has gone out of its way to say that growth hormone ‘shall not be included as an anabolic steroid’. Let’s take the typical first-time possession of a small quality of ‘juice’ for personal use. In Connecticut it’s a misdemeanour, in which case there’s imprisonment. In Arizona it’s technically a felony, but under a new law eligible offenders get probation with drug treatment in lieu of prison (Carroll 2005: 180).

In sum, the legal ambiguity has confused individuals about the seriousness of PESs. Before regulators can have an impact on PESs, they need to create solid ethical footing in the way that federal governments punish for possessing and supplying PESs.

Dietary-Supplement Industry

Another impediment restricting anti-doping policy is the dietary-supplement industry. The US$18 billion-a-year dietary-supplementary industry is loosely regulated and has flooded the market with substances that claim to improve performance (Sokolove 2004: 31). The problem with dietary-supplements is two-fold: firstly, because of the number and range of the products, it is argued that the public can no longer distinguish between legal and illegal PESs, thus gaining a tolerance for both. Secondly, dietary supplements are arguably a gateway drug to more serious PESs, such as steroids, thus exacerbating the doping problem. Although it is not an easy task, regulators need to develop a strategy to inform the public of the boundary between legal and illegal PESs.


As previously stated, dope tests range in cost from US $100 - $500; this is a significant obstacle for amateur sports, especially at the high school level where sports programs run on a shoe-string budget. At the professional level, if MLB (for example) invested a million dollars a year into testing, they could give every player a comprehensive anti-dope test ($200 per player) three times a year and have money left

over for research and education. Although this might sound expensive, a million dollars a year seems almost insignificant in a league were the average salary for a player is over US $2.6 million (Black in Carroll 2005: 104; MLB Players Association 2007)

Staying Ahead of the Cheaters

As discussed, the success of anti-doping policy hinges on the ability to test for PESs. Sokolove (2004) states that the future of testing for PESs is bleak, because “rogue scientists and coach-gurus have been winning [when using and disguising PESs] for years, and they have ever more tools available to them” (Sokolove 2004: 32). However, some optimistically counter-argue that if scientists can create a PES, than they can detect it.

As for the specific strategy used to catch dopers, regulators currently use a targeting approach, which means they predetermine what substances to test. This method is opposed to non-targeted testing were regulators test for everything that is available (obviously more expensive). Dr. David Black (President of Aegis Sciences Corporation, which is one of the few companies certified by the US Government to conduct doping testing) states, “Cost usually drives the decision to test of particular drugs. So yes, those who choose to cheat know what we are targeting, what drugs we are trying to identify. They look for drugs within the same drug class that are not currently being targeted” (Black in Carroll 2005: 99). In sum, scientists’ struggle to stay ahead of dopers poses a significant hurdle to regulators.

Defining Boundaries

As previously discussed, drawing the boundary of acceptability is one of the most difficult and subjective aspects of creating policy. There are at least two boundaries that create problems: defining the word “dope / doping”; and, drawing the line between therapy and enhancement. As mentioned, anti-doping policy largely hinges on the word “intention”. If it is not used, athletes can be punished for honestly not knowing they were using a banned substance. If it is used, it provides a loophole (ignorance) for dopers.

The other philosophical obstacle weakening anti-doping policy is drawing an ethical distinction between therapy and enhancement. Miah (2004) states, “The problem

is not simply that there is trouble distinguishing between therapy and enhancement, where the former is ethical and the latter is unethical…there is also the problem of delimiting which kinds of therapy and which kinds of enhancement are acceptable, since within each of these categories, there is room for concluding varying degrees of acceptability” (Miah 2004: 115). Although making the distinction between therapy and enhancement is difficult, it is necessary if regulators are going to effectively combat doping. To quote Pound, “The line needs to be drawn somewhere” (in Sokolove 2004: 48).

In closing, this chapter introduced the history, mechanisms, and influences that influence anti-doping policy. It grants the reader the necessary knowledge to understand the theory and discussion sections of this paper.

Chapter III:

In document Better, Stronger, Faster Explaining the Variance Between Professional and Amateur Anti Doping Policies (Page 65-70)