In the 1960s, following a symposium on doping, several governments had started to undertake the fight against doping. The “doping” was defined as “the use of substances or means designed to artificially increase the performance in general or on occasion of competition, which may be detrimental to the athletic ethics and the physical and psychological integrity of an athlete”. The first national laws date back to 1965.
In 1989, a European convention required all countries “to persuade their sports federations without delay to take measures and to dictate, if they have not already done so, the regulations to condemn the use or facilitation for or in the course of a sport competition, of the substances or means set out in the attached list”.
Due to multiple cases, often linked to harmonization problems (between the sports movements, various states, sports institutions), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was created in 1999 in the form of a foundation of Swiss private law, directed and financed 50% by the sports movement and 50% by the States.
The first World Anti-Doping Code was written in 2003. In order to give it international legal force, the States under the aegis of UNESCO developed an International Convention against Doping in Sport. To date, 185 countries have ratified it.
This institutional presentation opens a series of questions. What are the activities of the “anti-doping community”? On behalf of what principles do the actors act? What are the difficulties? Why do doping practices still persist? What are the limits of anti-doping policies and how can they be improved?
In this critical issue, scientists are often mobilized to develop molecular detection methods to analyze the psychological determinants of doping practices, but they do much less to understand the social dimensions of doping and the fight against doping. Such works are few and often scattered. The actors involved in the fight against doping rarely call for the social sciences, which have much to say and understand about these phenomena.

The Chair

This Chair is based on many of these concerns.
It seems important to us to consider both doping and the fight against doping in their social dimension. Sociologists, anthropologists, historians, political and legal scientists can investigate these doping practices, identify values and principles (which may be contradictory, for example, when it is necessary to go further the limits), and above all to study the realities of the implementation of anti-doping tools.
The social sciences can help the actors involved in the fight against doping with their work, whether to examine the difficulties of prevention, to study the harmonization processes or to evaluate public policies.
Beyond the difficulties associated with doping practices, there is a theoretical challenge to understand how a globalized approach to a health problem can be articulated while local constraints are taken into account. This tension between the local and the global is an object of this research program. Thus, it consists in, on the one hand, carrying out investigations based on realities in the field of different countries, thanks to a network of university laboratories which this Chair allows to create, and on the other hand, a rigorous analysis based on an empirical material composed of social science literature and surveys to take into account the diversity of cultures and related practices.

Specifically …

Thanks to this Chair, our research group and academic partners in a number of countries can develop a knowledge about doping practices and analyze anti-doping policies by structuring an “epistemic community” working on these issues. This goes through:
• development of academic exchanges (students, PhD students, researchers);
• organization of scientific events
• shared training
• exchange of documentary resources, which is intended to lead to the construction of an international research centre.
Furthermore, we are ready to respond to the needs of the actors involved in the fight against doping, in particular the government authorities, who may ask us for help to improve their knowledge of doping and evaluate their policies. We are ready to assist the UNESCO Secretariat in its monitoring mission of the International Convention on Doping in Sport. We will strive to respond to institutions, journalists or anti-doping activists who would like to benefit from our expertise.

Updated on 22 septembre 2017