Doping is not confined solely to professionals – increasing numbers of amateurs and recreational athletes are tempted or pressured into using performance-enhancing drugs.
As well as being linked to serious health issues or even death amongst individual sports professionals, doping negatively affects the public perception of sport and demotivates participants, seriously undermining the principles of open and fair competition in the process. Increasing levels of doping in professional and amateur sport has also negatively affected the profitability and sponsorship of sporting events and teams.
Together with Member States, the Commission therefore develops initiatives to coordinate national, regional and local actions focusing on this issue. Traditionally, anti-doping policies have primarily been concerned with testing and sanctions. However, there is now a growing realisation in the EU that such rules and programmes need to be backed by wider efforts to prevent a pro-doping culture.
Education and prevention need to target wider audiences, not just top-level competitive athletes. Research has shown the vital role that trainers, coaches, support staff, peers, and parents play in decision-making, particularly with regard to anti-doping. Moreover, deterrence is not the only means by which doping can or should be avoided; the role of the EU-level policies is crucial in supporting an anti-doping culture change in sport.
- The Commission therefore maintains regular contact with Member States, the Council of Europe, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
- The European Council has also been extensively involved in doping-related discussions at EU level. Under the Work Plan for Sport 2011-2014, the Council initiated an EU Expert Group on Anti-Doping. The Expert Group submitted the first EU revisions to the World Anti-Doping Code.
- DG EAC has also been responsible for supporting projects in the field of anti-doping since 2009, and has included anti-doping as one of the priorities of the Erasmus+ Sport programme.
The future of anti doping
The Commission has worked with Member States to ensure that all rules and procedures linked to the new World Anti-Doping Code comply with EU law and the EU's vision of an athlete-friendly anti-doping system.
Through the Erasmus+ programme the Commission will continue to support the efforts against doping in sport. Together with closer cooperation with WADA, the Commission endeavours to further address key issues in anti-doping – including athlete rights, best practice guidance and more.