AEON Idea: “The solution to doping is to extend the blame beyond athletes”

In this AEON Idea, published on July 21st, and written in collaboration with the London Health & Society Hub, James Knuckles and I argue that the only way to make professional sports sustainable in the longer term and solve the problem of widespread doping is to transform the financial matrix that supports and endorses it.

How can we do that?

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Richard Virenque of the Festina team in the 1995 Tour de France. Photo by Anders/Flickr.



We can start with the idea that athletes should not be the only ones held to account (in the sense of liability) for doping. In practice, this means changing WADA’s system of strict liability for the athlete. To do so, we first need a stakeholder analysis to understand who the relevant stakeholders are for each team, athlete or sport. WADA could require teams or individual athletes and their entourages to submit something akin to a classic organisational chart, showing who reports to whom, who pays whom, and who makes decisions for whom.

The next step would be to assign liability to the appropriate stakeholder(s). Here, we think that the individuals identified through the stakeholder analysis as possessing the most power or control over the ‘organisation’ should be held personally liable for the doping of the athlete(s) under their control. In some cases, the organisations themselves will have corporate responsibility.

You can read the full piece here:

If you are interested in writing for the London Health & Society Hub you can send us a pitch for your Idea to:

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