The basic concept is to protect clean athletes. By using prohibited substances and methods, doping athletes not only damage their own health, but also gain an unauthorized competitive advantage. In short, they are cheating.
Why anti-doping rules?
Doping undermines the fundamental values of sport, such as health, fairness, commitment, integrity, and equal opportunities. Doping is deceptive and harmful to athletes, in addition to misleading spectators, organizers and sponsors in their belief that they are watching a fair sporting competition. The anti-doping regulations clamp down on this deception, and help to ensure that everyone is able to enjoy clean and fair sport.
What, Exactly, is Meant by “Doping”?
Among the wider public, doping is often understood to be the use of prohibited substances and methods. For athletes, it is important to understand that the Swiss Olympic Doping Statute also covers a variety of other offenses. Examples include possession and trafficking in prohibited substances, or refusing to undergo doping testing procedures.
Why Do Athletes Engage in Doping?
Since physical and mental performance have an influence on sporting success, prohibited substances or methods can offer a competitive advantage. Any sport can be affected by doping. In the more technical sports, too, physical improvements can bring additional success.
Some doping offenders hope to achieve a shorter recovery time or a quicker return to top performance after an injury. Others strive for greater strength, explosive power, stamina, or increased concentration and aggression.
This is underpinned by various motives. Some athletes turn to doping in order to avoid defeat. Others feel the pressure of expectation and begin doping because they feel overwhelmed. And of course, gaining more money, prestige, renown, and recognition may also be reasons for doping.
How Dangerous is Doping?
Numerous prohibited substances and methods are hugely harmful and often damage the health of the athletes irrevocably. Severe psychological side-effects are also possible in addition to physical consequences. This affects the health of all those who use performance-enhancing methods in popular sports, such as in strength training or during their everyday professional or training lives. Many of these doping agents quickly create dependency, and have a lasting impact. In the more serious cases, they can even lead to death as a result of organ failure.
What are the Consequences of Doping?
In addition to the health-related impact, doping has various other radical consequences. The discovery of an anti-doping rule violation leads to sanctions and a ban from sport being imposed. Sanctions against an individual often result in financial problems (cessation or repayment of financial support), and difficulties in the employment market. A possible loss of respect and reputation among family, friends, employers, or school colleagues may also trigger social isolation.
Which Sanctions May be Imposed?
Any violations of the Swiss Olympic Doping Statute may be punishable by disqualification, fines, and/or a suspension from sport. Depending on the offense committed, a standard ban lasts two or four years – a period that may be increased or reduced, according to the circumstances. A suspension affects all activities in organized sport, including those performed by coaches and officials. It applies to all sports, worldwide. The Swiss Federal Sports Promotion Act also includes penalty clauses, which can result in prison sentences in the case of certain offenses.
Who is Responsible for Combatting Doping?
The rules governing clean sport are established at the international level by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The International Sports Federations, National Anti-Doping Organizations, National Olympic Committees, and major event organizers which have signed up to the WADA regulations are then legally bound by them. In Swiss sport, the regulations are implemented through the Swiss Olympic Doping Statute. The Swiss Sport Integrity Foundation is the independent center of excellence for fighting doping, and as such responsible for ensuring that the regulations are enforced. It protects the right of athletes to engage in fair, equal, and doping-free sport.