Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

Criminalization of Trade and Trafficking in Doping Substances in the European Union

Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

Criminalization of Trade and Trafficking in Doping Substances in the European Union

Article excerpt

Introduction

Although the answer to the question whether criminal or administrative sanctions shall be applied against trade and trafficking in doping substances, especially for personal use, remains a matter of political and personal approach (1), there have been clear regulatory steps taken on European level towards criminalization. (2) In the White Book on Sport (2007), under point 2.2., the European Commission clearly called member states to treat trade and trafficking in doping substances as illegal, same like trade and trafficking in illicit drugs. (3) When holding EU presidency Slovenian sport Minister Miran Zwer announced very clearly: "We need to develop one rule for the whole of the EU, so every country treats the issue the same. It cannot be illegal in one country and then not in another because the offenders are clever and exploit this". On the European Council summit in Athens in May 2009 the Commission once again called member states (which have not done it so far) to criminalize trade and trafficking in doping substances. What is more, the Commission urged member states to criminalize the possession of doping substances with the intention to spread them on the market. (4) Such intention raises crucial questions about EU competence in the field of harmonization and criminalization of trade and trafficking in doping as well as regards the possible legal grounds for common action of the European Union in this field.

These abstract attempts to deliver answers to the question whether the process of criminalization of trade and trafficking in doping substances on the EU level is legally feasible and if so, to what extent. It depicts reasons for the EU involvement in the area of trade and trafficking in doping and analyses the position of the EU Commission on the problem of trade and trafficking in doping substances. Moreover, it shows the outline of legal situation in the different member states of the EU. Finally respective Treaty provisions will be shortly analyzed in order to find possible legal grounds for criminalization of trade and trafficking in doping on the EU level. It is argued that such a common approach is currently possible only in certain aspects of the aforementioned problem.

Reasons for the EU interference

One may wonder why the EU shall interfere with the question of trade and trafficking in doping substances if some international organizations such as Council of Europe or UNESCO have already been involved. Numerous overlaps between the problem of drug trafficking for doping purposes and EU policies shall be mentioned in this context.

The general use and accessibility of drugs enhancing performance in recreational sports create a serious public health threat, especially to younger sportsmen (a subject of the EU policy laid down in article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU - consolidated version). Anabolic steroids and other doping substances are relatively easy and cheap to obtain. In this context, the following figures are more than expressive: As much as 51% of Polish 17 years-olds claim that it is easy to purchase anabolic steroids (the most frequently used doping substance) and 39 % of them think, they could buy them if they only wished so. In France the same is claimed by 10% of teenagers and in Italy by 16 %. Once on the market, performance enhancing drugs are used in both professional and recreational sport. (5) The 2011 Eurobarometer shows that young people can easily obtain even most harmful drugs within 24 hours. (6)

Moreover, trade, production and trafficking of illicit drugs represent (in some countries) forms of organized crime (also a subject of EU policy - article 67 TFEU), which the international community doesn't seem to have under control. The past few years have brought significant changes: the rapid emergence of new drugs as well as innovative distribution channels. Interpol believes that the traffic in performance-enhancing drugs, such as anabolic steroids, is bigger than that of marijuana, heroin and cocaine combined. …

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