The new front in the war on doping: Amateur athletes


Henning AD & Dimeo P (2018) The new front in the war on doping: Amateur athletes. International Journal of Drug Policy, 51, pp. 128-136.

The war on drugs is usually associated with criminal policies aimed at stemming consumption of drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and cannabis, less so with enhancement drugs like those used in sport. As drug use in sport, or doping, has become more visibly widespread, policies aimed at combating the issue have become more restrictive, intrusive, and harsh. In this article we draw new comparisons between the wider war on drugs and recent developments in sports anti-doping. We identify a growing trend towards criminalisation of traffickers and users, and associate that with another growing trend: the testing of amateur athletes. This article reviews the current anti-doping system, including the recent amateur policies, then considers of the results of one such program in amateur cycling. We then shift to consider the possible implications for amateurs of criminal doping laws and the recent debates about allowing medical exemptions for therapeutic use of banned substances. We show that drug use in sport can be understood as a new front in the war on drugs, with some extreme measures and many negative unintended consequences. To remedy this, we argue that amateur athletes require a separate anti-doping policy focused on minimising harms of use.

Doping; Sport; Health; Amateur

International Journal of Drug Policy: Volume 51

Publication date31/01/2018
Publication date online30/06/2017
Date accepted by journal09/05/2017

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