Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Exploring New Avenues to the Doping Debate in Sports: A Test-Relevant Approach

John Gleaves


This author examines the doping debate’s fundamental question: is sport justified to prohibit certain performance-enhancing substances? Although a well-trod question, this article argues that historical justification for banning doping does not provide sufficient reason to continue banning substances today. At the same time, current approaches that rely heavily on bioethical arguments only address a small portion of the doping debate. This paper will argue that the bioethical issues do not apply since sport, as a subspecies of games, ask that game players follow specific rules when participating in the game. Thus this paper develops arguments about doping related to the game test and separate from past bioethical debates over doping. These arguments use a test-relevant approach where sporting communities democratically evaluate the effects of individual substances on their specific sport. The result of a test-relevant approach is that sporting communities choose specific substances to permit or ban rather than having a universal agreed upon list of banned substances. This paper concludes with a brief discussion of the practical benefits including more meaningful prohibitions, more specific testing, and, potentially, sports that permit certain performance-enhancing substances currently prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

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