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Current drug policy in sports: issues and dilemmas


The detection of drugs has a significant impact on athletes, and the detection organization called World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has been set up for many years, and WADA’s doping policy should be improved. The WADA was estalished in 1998, under the leadership of the International Olympic Committee to set up a global anti-doping agency’s policy. Since 1999 WADA has become the world-wide leader in international anti-doping activities.


The drug included in WADA Prohibited List must meet two of the following three conditions:


  1. The substance is performance enhancing.
  2. The use of the substance constitutes a health risk to athletes.
  3. The use of the substance violates the spirit of fair competition in sport.


However, these provisions have several things missing. First of all, in competition testing is often unsuccessful, such as a recombinant hormone that has a short half-life in vivo. The testing units often treated the athletes as criminals, so there is a need for a strong legal basis for the structure. The testing procedures are often violate an athletes’ privacy.


Furthermore, although the following techniques do not involve the use of performance-enhancing drugs, they do cause unfair competition:


  1. Artificial high altitude–oxygen tent that athletes sleep in hoping to improve the body’s ability to use oxygen>, in order to increase endogenous erythropoietin;
  2. EPO–synthetic blood stimulating hormone erythropoietin, more blood carries more oxygen to hemoglobin, so the average than athlete’s endurance is improved;
  3. The wealth gap–athletes may have greatly differing levels of access to health services, supervision, and high-quality medical and technical equipment, so a top athlete from a rich country trains in a totally different environment that a counterpart from the developing world.


Like the vast majority of policy measures in this regard, the World Anti-Doping Agency does not resolve these basic factors involved in promoting unfair competition.


I think that WADA’s policy has two major blind spots:


  1. The responsibility to fully blame the athletes;.
  2. Doping is not a temporary problem, but long-term societal problem.


I support the existence of the World Anti-Doping Agency, but its policies have some problems, so I advocate the adoption of a harm-minimization of drug approach; this will ensure a more pragmatic and effective use of policy framework for the World Anti-Doping Agency.


Chih-Yin Tai is a native of Taiwan studying for an Ed.D in Sports Management at the United States Sports Academy.  He is planning to continue studying and working in the area of sports management in America and in his native country of Taiwan. For more information on courses of study at the Academy go to http://ussa.edu


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