Ministers tackle doping in recreational sport
By Ophélie Spanneut | Friday 11 May 2012
Up until now, national and international authorities have focused the fight against doping on professional sport. However, doping has now spread to recreational sport as well. Given the risks to health and the integrity of sport environments, as well as criminal activities related to the trafficking of doping substances, the member states’ ministers consequently plan to step up their efforts in this area. This is the gist of the conclusions, adopted on 10 May in Brussels, by the Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Council.
The 27 ministers recognise that knowledge of doping in recreational sport is limited, on both the scope of the problem and effective prevention measures. Cooperation by member states and at international level has been limited so far. Network projects are nevertheless co-financed through the 2010 preparatory actions in the field of sport, ‘Fitness against doping’ and ‘Strategy for stopping steroids’.
In this context, the Council asks member states to: encourage the development of educational programmes, information campaigns or other prevention measures; exchange information; and encourage cooperation between national and international authorities and with police and customs authorities. The states are also asked to provide the necessary means for investigations and to apply sanctions.
The Commission is asked to initiate a study to develop policies capable of addressing the problem and to support transnational awareness campaigns. The member states agree to extend the mandate of the expert group on anti-doping, set up under the EU work plan for sport 2011-2014. It will be tasked with collecting best practices in the fight against doping in recreational sport in the 27 member states and presenting recommendations by the end of 2013.
MEP Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE, France) welcomed this initiative. “There is as much doping in recreational sport as in high-level sport, if not more, particularly in extreme sports,” he notes. Bennahmias is nevertheless sceptical about the feasibility of inspections in connection with amateur sport competitions given the high cost of ‘biological passports’. The World Anti-Doping Code focuses on high-level sport but also gives national anti-doping organisations the possibility to carry out tests at recreational-level or masters’ competitions. The MEP finds that the solution lies primarily in education and prevention.
According to various studies, doping in recreational sport is motivated not only by the desire to improve performance but also by a number of other reasons, including aesthetic considerations, heightened self-confidence and the euphoric effects of doping substances.