In the past few years I have given the anti-doping fight quite a bit of thought. Current events show that more than ever, we need new initiatives. Any successful approach will have to involve a carrot and a stick. I would argue that we need bigger carrots and bigger sticks. I have formulated five ideas, let me know your thoughts.
Idea 1: Better legal protection for athletes.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but here’s my reasoning. Right now the odds are really not in favor of the the athletes (Valverde notwithstanding). They don’t have access to a large group of experts (people working for anti-doping labs are not allowed to testify on behalf of an accused athlete), labs are rarely punished for irregularities, and this gives athletes the opportunity to create reasonable doubt in the minds of at least some fans (especially those in the athlete’s home country). These myths of wrongful convictions then undermine the doping fight in general.
In order to show fans that convictions are legitimate, they have to see that athletes were given a fair shake. But this fair shake is not just important for appearances, it is also crucial for point 2. Let me know what you think about the above suggestions in the comments section below.