Title: Le marché du dopage dans le cyclisme sur route belge et français: analyse de la demande, de l'offre et de l'impact de la lutte antidopage.
Other Titles: Het aanbod van doping : verkenning van de markt en inschatting van de im pact van antidoping beleid in het Belgische en Franse wielrennen. Le marché du dopage dans le cyclisme sur route belge et français: analyse de la demande, de l'offre et de l'impact de la lutte antidopage.
Authors: Fincoeur, Bertrand; R0359475
Issue Date: 30-Sep-2016
Abstract: Introduction & Objective
Doping in elite cycling is supposed to be endemic. However, the interplay between the demand- and the supply-side of the market for doping products in cycling needed to be empirically studied, especially its recent evolution. The same goes for the evaluation of the impact of the different anti-doping activities that tackle the dopers and, increasingly, their suppliers. Therefore, this thesis has analyzed the organization of the doping market (i.e. both use and supply of doping products) in Belgian and French elite road cycling, and the impact of the anti-doping policy on its evolution from the end of the 1990s onwards.
Conceptual Framework & Research Methodology
The study offers a multi-level conceptual framework based on a structure & agency perspective that integrates environmental and individual factors to explain the existence and development of drug-related practices in elite cycling. We have also used the literature on illegal markets and policy evaluation.
The research relies on mixed methods, i.e. qualitative and quantitative research methods. We realized 77 semi-structured interviews among anti-doping policy-makers, elite riders, their suppliers and other stakeholders. Besides interviews, we also used participant observations and documentary data (media sources, judicial cases). The quantitative part was based on a survey, administered to 767 Flemish riders, using randomized response models.
Main Results
Since the establishment of the World Anti-Doping Agency in 1999 and the growing involvement of law enforcement agencies, the anti-doping policy in elite cycling has at least partly reached its goals. Indeed, the doping prevalence seems to have substantially decreased and riders’ attitudes have changed, though in various proportions. The widespread culture of tolerance towards doping that had developed has at least partly been broken, and most of the cycling teams are no longer doping supportive. However, the anti-doping policy has led to some unintended consequences, e.g. the withdrawal of the “experts” (both the experts by experience, i.e. riders and staff, and the experts by expertise, i.e. physicians) from the supply-side of the doping market. Instead of experts, criminal organizations could paradoxically benefit from anti-doping policy, although there is no clear evidence yet of their embeddedness in elite cycling. Actually, it is still rather unclear whether the total of doping-related harms is now smaller than it used to be, and if the different harms (at the health, economic and social level) do not rather result from the anti-doping policy than from doping itself. Moreover, it is noteworthy that the policy, even if it has been effective, is probably based on wrong premises, namely that the anti-doping policy is primarily driven by ethical considerations for financial reasons, rather than by health considerations. Finally, the policy has also had massive costs, both in terms of money invested and in terms of infringements of the athletes’ privacy.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:Leuven Institute of Criminology (LINC)
Institute for Labour Law

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