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Creating the 'pure' athlete: Discourses on steroid use and prohibition in sport

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
This thesis questions current anti-doping policy in sport because it is unable to account for the integration of sporting technologies that have rendered the ‘pure’ body fictional. My research is based on a discourse analysis of World Anti-Doping Agency policies, newspaper articles covering baseball’s ‘steroid scandal’, and interviews with competitive athletes. Discourses about steroids suggest that dangerous health outcomes, coupled with artificial performance boosts, create doped athletes that require surveillance interventions from sporting authorities to protect ‘clean sport’. Moral panics are encouraged by media and policy reports through narratives that increasingly depend on a ‘war on drugs’ logic. Athletes are placed at the center of this paradox between the ‘win at all cost’ approach of sport and the mantra that only ‘clean athletes’ count. Consequently, resources are funneled into eliminating doping through antiquated ethics concerned with natural/artificial boundaries; while legal technologies improving performance and causing harm continue unchecked.
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