Transforming the Doping Culture Whose responsibility, what responsibility?

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: The doping culture represents an issue for sport and for society. Normative debates on doping have been mainly concerned with questions of the justifiability of doping. The practice of assigning responsibility for doping behaviour has chiefly been individual-based, focusing mainly on the individual athlete’s doping behaviour. The overarching aim of this thesis is to investigate the relevance and the importance of the ideas of responsibility in relation to ethical debates on doping. The more specific aim is to examine the possibility of broadening the scope of responsibility beyond the individual athlete, and to sketch a theoretical framework within which this expansion could be accommodated. In the first study, it is argued that bioethicists have a moral/professional responsibility to start out from a realistic and up-to-date view of genetics in ethical debates on gene doping, and that good bioethics requires good empirics. In study 2, the role played by affective processes in influencing athletes’ attitudes towards doping behaviour is investigated, both on an individual and on a collective level. It is concluded that an exclusive focus on individual-level rule violation and sanctions may entail overlooking the greater social picture and would prove to be ineffective in the long term. In study 3, the common doping-is-cheating arguments are examined and it is argued that they fail to capture vital features of people’s moral responses to doping behaviour. An alternative account of cheating in sport is presented in terms of failure to manifest good will and respect. It is concluded that putting cheating in the broader context of human interpersonal relationships makes evident the need to broaden the scope of moral responsibility and agency beyond the individual athlete. In study 4, the particular case of assigning responsibility for doping to sports physicians is used to examine the current individual-based approach to responsibility. This approach underestimates the scope of the responsibility by leaving out a range of other actors from the discourse of responsibility. The central conclusion of the thesis is that transforming the current doping culture requires broadening the scope of responsibility to include individuals and groups of individuals other than the athletes themselves.