Doping As Moral Panic. Performance Enhancement and the Lost Values of a Better World.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Nils ZURAWSKI, University of Hamburg, Germany
„Doping is unfair!“ Most athletes would agree to that statement. Although known to sports since its organised beginnings at the end of the 19th century, reactions to it have changed, what once was frowned upon, today qualifies as a felony. What happened and how could doping practices become and be turned into moral panics, said to call into question societal values beyond sports?

Based on qualitative interviews with German athletes, I want to discuss why the discourse of doping, aimed at the "few" elite-athletes to whom the WADA anti-doping rules apply (roughly 7,000 in Germany), could been used to construct a moral panic that lead to a new criminal law against such practices. Why is doping so much more than regular norm breaking within sports, such as foul play for?

I will analyse the discursive basis of the anti-doping fight, i.e. the so called values of sports, which seem to represent a better world, where fairness rules, where nature overcomes culture, where humankind returns to its true spirits and virtues. Doping as its anti-thesis jeopadize such an ideal world.

I will argue that such a discourse using doping as moral panic, actually serves an industry in which those values are mere selling arguments, appealing to an audience that longs for a perfect world. A moral panic that portrays performance enhancement by (illegal) medical substances as threatening to the values of society is basically an infatuation of the capitalist conditions under which sport is performed. Doping as moral panic helps to support the myth of clean and fair sport that is actually in stark contradiction to sport in a world of consumer capitalism.

I will also discuss the possible positive effects of such a moral panic, if its reference „the true values of sports“ are redefined.