The Elite Athlete - In a State of Exception?

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 3 (1):3-18 (2009)
Abstract
At IAPS Ljubljana conference (September 2007) Dag Vidar Hanstad and Sigmund Loland presented a paper on elite-level athletes' duty to provide information on their whereabouts, to decide between two opposing positions: is this WADA demand justifiable anti-doping work or an indefensible surveillance regime? They concluded that on moral grounds this regime is conditionally acceptable, the condition being the acceptability of a general framework and objectives embodied in anti-doping global legislative foundations (the World Anti-Doping Code). But, as they said, principled objections against the system have more universal relevance, which has to be taken seriously . To take this ambiguous and intriguing conclusion a step further, I propose a legal rather than ethical approach, from the aspect of constitutional and international human rights law, and the possible clash of two legally acknowledged values - the concept of elite sport without doping, and the concept of individual human rights. This conflict between ideological or moral values and the legality of individual rights is not a novelty. This paper presents three instances of this conflict: Bernard de Mandeville's differentiation between public and private values; Eug ne Sue's parallel legal and civil morals; and the contemporary moralisation of law which conflates legality into morality. The subordination of legality to morality has potentially dangerous consequences: here, Agamben's 'state of exception' comes to mind, with his analysis of potestas and auctoritas. However, in the case of sport and the war against doping, the origin of power is not in the nation state; it originates in civil society's non-governmental national and international bodies recognised as autonomous sources of legal order
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