Anti-doping policy: historical and contemporary ambiguities in the fight for drug-free sport
Definitions and uses of the term policy can refer to a range of strategic or operational activities. It can be an area of politics (for example, environmental policy or housing policy) – and consequently infer governmental objectives. It can be a broad vision tied to stated objectives, such as having a policy on child development or on health in the workplace, in which case policies can be driven by single organisations with sufficient resources to enable significant social change. Policies can also be concrete rule-based outcomes such as, for example, the regulations for parking at universities. These might be single or multiple organisations but differ from other forms of policy in that the requirements are highly specific and therefore the results can be monitored clearly. A number of theorists have examined the policy process: the activities by which policies are made, implemented and changed (for example, Kingdon, 1984; Sabatier, 1999; John, 2003). Although detailed analysis of policy theory is beyond the scope of this chapter (see Nowlin, 2011 for such a discussion), two key points are identified here that will help to set the conceptual framework behind contemporary anti-doping policy. The first is that policy rarely occurs as a linear set of functions; instead it is best understood as a series of overlapping policies that are fluid, adaptable and dependent on local and global power relations. The second is that the early stages of the policy process under which a vision is rationalised and developed set the context for the planning, implementation, monitoring and eventual success or failure of the policy. Public, private or third sector organisations often have policies that set out their visions and/or mission statements. Within the sports sector, policy documents tend to refer to those constructed by governmental or public sector organisations that have stated aims around sports development (Houlihan, 2008a; Green, 2009). These might be aspirational ideas for collectively engaging related organisations, such as is the case in recent efforts to improve health through sports participation. Or they may be evidence-based with incremental and realistic plans for improvement (Coalter, 2007b). Stating that a country has won a specific number of medals at international competitions and aims to improve upon that by a specific percentage over a given time period serves as one prominent example of such a document. By tracing the chronological development of anti-doping policy since 1960, the aim here is to present and discuss the most significant aspects of the substance and process of anti-doping
policy in order to enhance understanding of the past, present and future of the subject. More specifically, this essay argues that the ambiguities of earlier historical periods in the policy process continue to haunt contemporary anti-doping policy makers.