Ethical aspects of doping and anti-doping : in search of an alternative policy

Ethical aspects of doping and anti-doping : in search of an alternative policy / Bengt Kayser. - Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven), 2018. - Dissertation KU Leuven presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor in Kinesiology.
- With summary in Dutch: p. ix - xii


The general aim of this thesis is to contribute to the discussion on doping and anti-doping, and to sketch the outlines of an alternative way of dealing with doping inside and outside of sport. After a short introduction (Chapter 1) that sketches the historical background of the main issues, an analysis of modern anti-doping in elite sport is presented, highlighting some paradoxes and weaknesses at the basis of today’s anti-doping policies (Chapter 2). Chapter 3 provides an analysis of the argument that allowing doping would merely result in a uniform shift of the playing field at the cost of greater health risks. It is shown that this is unlikely to be the case and a counterargument in favour of allowing some regulated forms of doping, because potentially leading to a more dynamic playing field, is then presented. Chapter 4 provides a perspective accounting for some of the side effects of modern anti-doping, also from a legal perspective. It highlights some of these side-effects and shows that anti-doping comes at a considerable cost to the individual athlete and the community. Chapter 5 then introduces the idea of using a harm reduction approach in the realm of doping in sport. First the principle of harm reduction is explained, building upon the evidence base in the field of recreational substance use. This is followed by a first attempt of applying its principles to doping practices in sport. Chapter 6 then takes the reasoning of the preceding chapter further by completing it with a specific analysis of the ethical implications of such a harm reduction approach for doping, concluding that such an approach can be defended. Chapter 7 finally provides a general discussion that ends with some conclusions and perspectives. The overarching conclusion of the thesis is that there is no society-wide solution to the problem of doping. Therefore practical ways of dealing with its presence aimed at containing its potential risks may represent preferable policy alternatives as compared to today’s runaway effects of globalisation of anti-doping efforts, all while promising to enrich the spectacle of modern elite sport.


1.) Introductory remarks
2.) Current anti-doping policy: a critical appraisal
3.) What if we relaxed the anti-doping rule: towards a Red Queen effect?
4.) On the presumption of guilt without proof of intentionality and other consequences of current anti-doping policy
5.) Doping and performance enhancement: harms and harm reduction
6.) Ethics of a relaxed anti-doping rule accompanied by harm-reduction measures
7.) Discussion, conclusions and perspectives
- Appositions
- Short CV
- Publications on doping and anti-doping
- Acknowledgements, Personal contributions, Conflict of interest statement
A.) French speaking athletes’ experience and perception regarding the whereabouts reporting system and therapeutic use exemptions
B.) The anti-doping industry coming of age: in search of new markets
C.) Do public perception and the ‘spirit of sport’ justify the criminalisation of doping? A reply to Claire Sumner

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29 May 2018
Kayser, Bengt
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Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) - Catholic University of Leuven
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