How to justify a ban on doping?

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This article deals with arguments that challenge the possibility of an ethical justification for a doping ban.


It shows that a justification for the doping ban is only possible if its implementation can be safeguarded.

Study design

Systematic review.


Based on the proposition of the game theory, this article examines the scope of the arguments of naturalness, health, equal opportunity and fairness used in scientific literature.


Ceteris paribus, athletes will always prefer a situation that presents no health risk to a situation in which they face a threat to their health. They will therefore consent to a doping ban on the condition that it is ensured that all parties are bound to this rule, so that anyone complying with the rules will not be afraid of losing the competition as a result. For even if we condoned self-harm, it could still be argued plausibly that the individual should not suffer more disadvantages than absolutely necessary for the sake of gaining an advantage over others. Of course, it is possible to plead for a restricted approval of doping measures with acceptable risk. But even taking minor risks would not seem sensible under the condition that all participants without exception adhere to the same conditions when there is the option to renounce the (avoidable) risks. So as far as the use of performance-enhancing substances or methods is concerned, we can maintain that even if minor health risks are to be expected, a ban on doping can be justified from an ethical point of view.

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