Why we need a World Pro-Doping Agency


Last night, I was at the British Library taking part in a panel on doping in sport. Doping seems to be in the news all of the time at the moment, with revelations about Russian involvement and is made worse by the allegations of corruption in sports federations. 

I have spoken in so many debates about doping and, inevitably, i tend to be the one who, now let me get this right, people love to hate. Yes, that's the way round I think. I argue for doping in sport. I argue that the present anti-doping system is out of sync with our emerging culture of human enhancement. I argue that we need to re-think everything.

I have been saying this for 15 years and nothing has changed. Officials still claim unbelievably low levels of doping in sport. Athletes claim it is much higher. Athletes keep getting abused, but still bear the brunt of the sanctions. 

I don't have a solution to the problem, but neither does anti-doping. In my system, the world of sport takes on more responsibility for steering athletes to safe forms of performance enhancement, invests into helping them make performance gains, ensures an appropriate relationship between athletes and their advisors - including physicians.

I am told that my system is too onerous on the sports world, that it is inconceivable to ensure a high quality of care in a developing country which lacks even the infrastructure to develop sport. I am told there are not enough resources and yet NBC paid $8b for the next 16 years of Olympic coverage. The lack of resource in anti-doping undermines its credibility and it cannot attend to its duty of care to athletes more widely without approaching this from a public health perspective. Yet, in the wake of the Beijing 2008 test results, the IOC wants federations to figure it out. I don't understand this at all, but suspect it will not go very far to solving the problem.

In my world, athletes are under medically supervised doping. they will still be at risk, but they will know more about those risks and be better equipped to diminish their impact on health. This alone is reason to make doping legal, but there is an even stronger claim to be made in relation to what we ask athletes to do, which is transcend human limits. They can't do this without technology. Doping is one means by which an athlete can do this, but there are others. 

Here's an article which I published 10 years ago, setting out the case for a different model and here's the final video