The ethics of doping
43. WADA and UK Sport take a strong stance against
doping, with the view that it is against the 'spirit of sport',
a value characterised by ethics, fair play and honesty, health,
dedication and commitment and respect for laws and rules.
UK Sport told us that "doping has no place in sport"
and that they "do not believe that the values that sport
is meant to represent are helped in any way by people engaging
in doping practices".
44. However, during the course of this inquiry, we
heard the view expressed that doping is not in itself detrimental
to sport. Professor Julian Savulescu from the University
of Oxford told us that performance enhancement "is not against
the spirit of sport" and that "there is no reason sport
must remain purely a test of natural ability".
Furthermore, Professor Savulescu felt that anti-doping legislation
should be removed "to permit safe performance enhancement".
In addition, when Members of the Committee attended the annual
European College of Sports Science conference in Lausanne, we
were interested to hear presentation of arguments that "the
current anti-doping campaign reflects an erosion of reason that
is caused by a growing fear of scientific progress"
and that a more "liberal stance towards doping" should
be taken in general.
45. The ethical debate is of particular interest
when considering where the line should be drawn between what may
be considered fair use of a mechanism for enhancing performance
and what should be prohibited and thus classified as doping if
used in sport. For example, whilst use of anabolic steroids which
increase strength by encouraging muscle growth is banned, technologies
such as eye laser therapy, used to dramatically enhance vision,
are not. This is more than merely a philosophical question since
the mechanism whereby the ethics of performance enhancement are
taken into account by WADA and UK Sport is unclear. Whilst WADA
have put in place an Ethics and Education Committee, the main
role of this Committee appears to be in developing educational
initiatives for athletes about the dangers and consequences of
drug use in sports, as opposed to consideration of the ethics
of doping or of the ethical arguments for listing certain items
on the WADA Prohibited List.
We discuss this further below (see paragraph 62).
46. In addition,
it is interesting that whilst WADA and UK Sport fund research,
primarily into the detection of doping, we have found it difficult
to track down sources of funding for research into the ethics
of whether doping is problematic.
We believe that ethics are
an important consideration in the fight against doping and are
concerned that limited attempts are being made to address this
issue. We recommend that UK Sport establish a Committee to examine
the ethical aspects of doping in sport and advise WADA on possible
changes to the consideration of ethical issues within its operations.
We also believe that UK Sport and WADA should consider the case
for funding research into the ethics of doping.