Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

The Policy Issue concerning the Choice of Method to Deal with Doping

Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

The Policy Issue concerning the Choice of Method to Deal with Doping

Article excerpt

I. Introduction

Doping in sports has become popular within the past few years. The Tour de France scandals in 1998 and recently in 2007 or the BALCO affair in 2003 (1) are only a handful of examples of how doping infractions seriously hit the news' headlines. More and more athletes are going to use performance enhancing drugs. Doping seems to have become an integral characteristic of sports competitions, despite the diverse side-effects the use of prohibited substances may have.

Fortunately, governments seem to have recognised the alarming development of doping cases. The USA, for example, used to be very reluctant in restricting domestic professional sports by imposing drug laws to sports. (2) To ensure a sustainable successful economy, the government deferred decision-making to private organisations. Since government regulation was seen as potentially profit limiting, restrictions should only have been imposed if necessary. (3) The attitude changed significantly when steroids in sports became a national issue and began to make headlines in the news on a regular basis. (4) Most importantly, the US government recognised the effect steroid use can have on youths and amateur athletes (5) and now sees regulation as a necessary step to address the issue. The Clean Sports Act of 2005 has been introduced to keep teenagers and youths away from performance enhancing drugs by eliminating their use by professionals in the US. (6) The bill provides for the uniform adoption by the four major American sports leagues of rules similar to the strict Olympic enhancement policies in order to eradicate steroid and enhancement use in competitive professional athletics. (7) Some European countries also have implemented anti-doping laws including criminal provisions to combat doping infractions. France, Spain, Belgium and Italy are only a few countries to mention here. (8)

Switzerland, for example, adopted a dual doping sanction system where sanctions can be imposed by sports governing organisations or by public authorities. (9) The Federal Act on the Advancement of Sports of 2002 provides criminal sanctions in order to expand the sanctions of sports organisations.

This year, Germany finally introduced an Anti-Doping Law. The government recognised that doping tends to destroy ethnical-moral values of the sports world and took it as its obligation to protect society's health. (10) Since 66 percent of all adults living in Germany participate in sports regularly and see professional athletes as their heroes, politicians assumed that the fight against doping would have a positive effect on society's health. (11) Whether the new Anti-Doping Law can be seen as innovative in the fight against doping is still contested. Opponents still question whether the government should get involved in the combat against doping and face the difficulties the introduction of such legislation entails.

The policy issue concerning the choice of method to deal with doping is not over yet.

II. The Situation in Germany

In Germany, both the sport itself and the state are dealing with doping. Whilst the sport and its authorities are primarily controlling and sanctioning athletes, the state is more reluctant in regulating doping issues. This might have changed within the past few years.

The state has become seriously concerned about the increase of doping incidents.

Consequently, it has been thinking of extending its legal provisions to profoundly regulate anti-doping violations. By this time, the State is already processing a so called Anti-Doping Law (12) which expands existing regulations.

Before the new law was introduced by the German government, the debate of whether to interfere in sports regulations through governmental legislation, and criminal sanctions in particular, had been broad and controversial. Since the new Anti-Doping Law is not satisfying for many opponents, the discussion is still ongoing. …

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