Doping control, providing whereabouts and the importance of privacy for elite athletes

D. Valkenburg, O. de Hon, I.M. van Hilvoorde

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Background: To improve anti-doping efforts in sports, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) introduced the World Anti-Doping Program, in which (among others) regulations for providing athletes' whereabouts are described. Because the effectiveness and efficiency of this system depends on the co-operation and compliance of athletes, the perspective of elite athletes is important. This paper answers the following research questions: What is the perspective of Dutch elite athletes on the current whereabouts system in general and how important is their privacy in providing whereabouts in particular? In addition, this study explores how far the whereabouts system can be developed in the future. Are athletes willing to accept greater invasions of their privacy in order to reduce administrative effort and whereabouts failures? Method: A structured questionnaire was completed by 129 Dutch elite athletes registered in the national and/or international testing pool. Results: The results of this study indicate widespread dissatisfaction with the whereabouts system. Most respondents support anti-doping testing in general, but many athletes feel that WADA's whereabouts system is unacceptable in several respects. In terms of physical privacy, there was a great dissatisfaction. Nearly half of the athletes felt that the '1-hour time slot' limits their freedom, but on the other hand, most athletes disagreed with the statement that the distinction between their sport and private life is disturbed. For almost one in three respondents, the whereabouts system has a negative influence on the pleasure they experience in being an elite athlete. In terms of informational privacy, almost all athletes had confidence in the confidential treatment of their whereabouts information.Almost all athletes would accept giving their phone number to Doping Control Officials, but only half of the athletes would accept sharing their location on their mobile phone. Furthermore, almost two in ten of the athletes would accept wearing a permanent wrist or ankle bracelet or accept being implanted with a GPS chip in order to facilitate future anti-doping testing. Conclusion: The current whereabouts system needs to be improved in order to increase athletes' satisfaction with the anti-doping rules. The athletes themselves need to be engaged in this process. The results of this study indicate that a majority of the athletes are not likely to accept a greater violation of their privacy than the current whereabouts regulations already entail. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)212-218
    JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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