Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2008


The conventional wisdom is that in the fight against doping, the government is in the best position to clean up sport and protect the integrity of competition. The premise underlying this assumption is that in the United States, sport is private, so that the government typically has no role in its regulation. It is now, advocates suggest, with the integrity of sport on the line, the government should move off the sidelines and take action. This essay challenges that premise by arguing that with respect to doping in sports the government has not merely been a sidelines observer, but was actively reaping the benefits that performance-enhanced victories produced. Accordingly, this essay aims to examine the issue of doping in sports, particularly in the American Olympic Movement, in a new light. Our current focus has been on individual athletes making misguided choices in an attempt to short-cut the usual path to athletic success. This essay seeks to expand that view, by arguing that the individual stories of cheating through doping have taken place in a win-at-all-costs sports paradigm that was fully supported by the government, which for decades did little to address the issue. Now, with the United States' international image on the line, the government is tackling the issue seemingly with full force, using its power and influence to clean up sport. Examining more fully the government relationship to sports doping, and now its response, is important, because it can illuminate ways that the government's anti-doping initiatives can threaten athletes' rights and ultimately undermine the movement to eradicate doping in sport.



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