The social construction of sport doping: Body enhancement beyond good and evil

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterPopular


Regardless of the official zero-tolerance doping rules of the International
Olympic Committee, and the ban of 118 Russian athletes (for their ties to the
Kremlin’s state-sponsored doping program) the number of doped athletes at the
Rio de Janeiro 2016 games was far higher than official statistics made it seem.
We are waiting for new detection technologies to trace the latest generation of
doping agents in Olympic athletes’ blood samples that are now in storage. Sport
is tough, mean and uncompromising. The possibility of gaining high national,
social and commercial recognition from winning gold medals has motivated
scientists, doctors, coaches and athletes to consider ignoring the rules while
looking to improve performance. Since the late nineteenth century, there has
been a willingness to experiment with new techniques, drugs, food, etc. in
modern sports. However, the challenge is how to use performance-enhancing
technologies and substances that won’t be detected by the anti-doping hunters.
The latest promising performance enhancer is genetic doping – manipulating the
human genetic code to increase an athlete’s muscle mass, endurance or more
efficient oxygen use. Since it is almost impossible to detect gene therapy as a
form of enhancement means there is an opportunity to freely dope. However, the
anti-doping community is as determined as ever to stop gene doping in any form by reminding the public of the rules of fair play and the risks to the athletes’ health.
There are well-known reports of increasing injuries and deaths of
professional and amateur elite athletes due to adverse reactions from doping.
These reports fuel the debates on the honesty and moral uprightness of top-class sports and their ability to continue delivering on the promise of ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’, the Olympic motto – ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger.’ In this short paper I will discuss how the history and future of sport doping continue to interfere with human body enhancement efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKnowing your way in STS
EditorsHarro van Lente
Place of PublicationMaastricht
PublisherDatawys/ Universitaire Pers Maastricht
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


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