The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is an independent organization that promotes scientific research and monitors the development of anti-doping campaigns. In addition, the organization puts forward the World Anti Doping Code, the document that harmonizes anti-doping strategies in sport. According to this Code, all athletes should compete in a doping-free environment.
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The analysis of the origins of the organization sheds light on the policies and approaches that the agency applies and, therefore, specific attention should be paid to the evaluation of those principles with regard to the ethical principles introduced by the Global Business Standards Codex. A critical assessment of WADA’s regulatory regime is possible by implementing such ethical principles as transparency, fairness, and dignity.
From the perspective of the transparency principle, the WADA’s code should be more concerned with the issues of publicity and objectivity. In this respect, the question arises concerning the morality of the strategies used by the agency. The sporting events, therefore, should not be recognized as corporate activities subject to political and economic environments.
According to Hanstad et al. (2008), “doping was primarily a public relations problem that threatened lucrative television and corporate contracts…worth billions of dollars” (p. 230). Therefore, while adopting anti-doping campaign, the organization at issue should be more focused on the developing equal and beneficial opportunities for individuals participating in sporting events rather than on commercial issues.
Such an assumption refers directly to the case of the Atlanta Olympics when several doping tests were not given to publicity for commercial purposes.
In order to improve the situation the WAGA agency should be more concerned with the transparent reporting to ensure sustainability and control of the sporting events. A transparency policy can effectively be applied through adherence to moral commitment to anti-doping campaign.
Transparency issues can also be improved as soon as the anti-doping campaign is regarded as a form of social monitoring. Surveillance of all procedures and development of individual check-control systems constitute an important technique that should be reconsidered by WADA’s officials.
To integrate changes to a social domain, the agency’s code should undergo philosophical transformation. According to Slugget (2011), “WADA’ surveillance practices often extend beyond sport’s walls and typically involve multiple, interacting agendas including efficiency, policing, legitimation, and appearance of control” (p. 31).
Hence, involving conceptual frameworks is essential for reconsidering the purposes of anti-doping policies adopted by the agency. In addition, the surveillance policies implemented by the agency should come in congruence with the cultural patterns.
Within these provisions Park (2005) emphasizes, “sport is a central cultural technology of governing the social body, a technology to help maintain the body of the population be healthy, efficient, and productive” (p. 177).
Therefore, the governments should rely heavily on cultural practices before implementing a set of ethical principles. In particular, they should prioritize equality, fair competition, and treatment instead of demonstrating high performance by all means.
Looking WAGA regulatory regimes from the fairness principle, the attention should be paid to the analysis fair treatment, training, and performance principles adjusted for all athletes.
Within this context, the fairness principle, on the one hand claims, “athletes have a contractual obligation of sorts to abide by the rules governing a sports, and the use of a prohibited substance breaks or implicit agreement” (Hemphill 2009, p. 314).
Alternatively, the violation of agreement would imply unfair treatment of the parties concerned. On the other hand, a more serious infringement of the contract also contributes to unfair competition among the athletes, as well as violation of the equality rights.
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In this respect, “to gain an unfair advantage by intentionally using a prohibited means in training or in performance is considered to be cheating” (Hemphill 2009, p. 314). With regard to the above-presented considerations, the fairness principle relies on such aspects as equal and transparent competition, as well as protection of individual rights during games.
Apart from the equality issues, the fairness principle implies liability and commitment to ensuring equal treatment during competition. Striking the balance between one’s individual privacy right and the necessity to eradicate spread of doping in sports is an important issue that should be taken into the deepest consideration.
In this respect, Halt (2009) refers to Article 8 of European Code, which runs, “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence” (p. 285). In this respect, in order to find the equilibrium, WADA should be more concerned with the approaches underlining anti-doping principles in regard to the privacy principles.
To follow the principles of dignity, the WADA agency should refers to the analysis of civil rights and its influence on developing power and support for the athletes. This principle is important because it restores confidence in the organization’s potential to protect rights of individuals.
As Houlihan (2004) states, “The generally low levels of trust, co-operation and compatibility between policy makers left loopholes for drug abusing athletes…in the anti-doping regime which was increasingly perceived as poorly managed and reliant upon dubious science” (p. 421).
Therefore, WADA’s work should be oriented on providing opportunities for athletes to regain their confidence in the organization’s efficient management and promotion of civil rights.
Athletes should, first of all, regarded as individuals possessing a set of rights and principles that allow them to freely choose the sports they would like be involved. Principles of freedom and privacy are also included into evaluation of the dignity principles that is presented in WADA’s code (Hard 2010).
According to Tamburrini (2007), the agency successfully meets all ethical criteria and fulfils the dignity principle. Nevertheless, there are some issues that violate athletes’ privacy rights. The major task of the WADA’s code is to uncover the case of drug use, but not to give the personal issues of athletes to publicity. In other words, anti-doping strategies should not contradict the purpose of sport.
With regard to the above-presented criticism of WADA’s regulatory regime, it should be stated that the implemented anti-doping policies fully adhere to the chosen ethical principles, except for several issues.
In particular, the organization should pay closer attention to transparent reporting about cases of drug abuse, excluding the commercial purposes. Second, the code should not prioritize government’s purposes to improve sports performance in the country. Rather, they should be more focused on the welfare and privacy issues.
Protecting civil rights and equality principles is the basic requirement to improve the current situation. Finally, WADA must pay attention to the equality principle in terms of athletes’ competition. In this respect, cultural and social backgrounds must be analysed to avoid conflicts and adhere to the moral principles. Athletes should feel equal treatment and trustful atmosphere during competition.
Halt, J 2009, ‘Where is the Privacy in WADA’s “Whereabouts” Rule?’, Marquette Sports Law Review, vol. 20, no. 1. pp. 267-289.
Hanstad, DV, Smith , A, and Waddington, I 2008, ‘Type Your Reference List in Alphabetical Order Below’, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, vol. 43, no. 3, pp 227-249.
Hard, M. (2010). Caught In The Net: Athletes’ Rights And The World Antidoping Agency. Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal, 19(3), 533-564.
Hemphill, D 2009, ‘Performance Enhancement and Drug Control in Sports: Ethical Considerations’, Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 313-326.
Houlihan, B 2004, ‘Civil Rights, Doping Control and the World Anti-Doping Code’, Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics, vol. 7., no. 3, pp. 420-437.
Park, J-K 2005, ‘Governing Doped Bodies: The World Anti-Doping Agency and the Global Culture of Surveillance’, Cultural Studies, Critical Methodologies, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 174-188.
Slugget, B 2011, ‘Sport’s Doping Game: Surveillance in the Biotech Age’, Sociology Of Sport Journal, 28, 4, pp. 387-403.
Tamburrini, C 2007, ‘Are Doping Sanctions Justified? A Moral Relativistic View’, Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 199-211.
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