The Political Economy of Professional Sport

The Political Economy of Professional Sport

New Horizons in the Economics of Sport series

Jean-François Bourg and Jean-Jacques Gouguet

This timely book offers a critical interpretation of the traditional social and economic accounts of sport. It provides an incisive analysis of professional sport and defines alternative foundations to the present model. The authors demonstrate that professional sport is an extremely complex phenomenon encompassing many unique factors depending on its global reach, financing and organization.

Chapter 8: Doping as a By-Product of Professional Sport

Jean-François Bourg and Jean-Jacques Gouguet

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, sports, politics and public policy, political economy


From 1998 onwards, the extent of doping was revealed by many scandals that successively touched the Tour de France and the Tour of Italy in cycling, rugby in the Southern Hemisphere, Italian football and international athletics. Effectively, this practice appeared no longer as an isolated act, but very much as an organized and well-established massive practice. Doctors (de Mondenard, 1987, 2000, 2004; Laure, 1995, 2000, 2004; Carrier, 2002), sociologists (Yonnet, 1998, 2004; Waddington, 2000; Mignon, 2002; Houlihan, 2003a), historians (Vigarello, 2002), philosophers (Siri, 2000, 2002; Queval, 2004) and jurists (Caballero and Bisiou, 2000; Breillat et al., 2004) have all understood, with their own concepts and methodologies, the problem of doping. As for this study, we intend to examine the possibility of applying economic reasoning to the behaviour of the champion who takes drugs. Can doping avoid economic analysis? Are its foundations to be found in economics? Can resorting to this practice simply be seen as the reasoning of Homo oeconomicus? Economic research has recently become interested in doping in order to confront some of its theories about the real behaviour of the drugged sportsperson (Bourg, 2000, 2003b, 2004a, 2005) and the anti-doping policies of sports bodies (Eber, 2002; Maennig, 2002). In order to understand why sportspeople resort to drugs, one should straightaway distinguish between the two traditional levels of economic analysis. On the microeconomic level, according to the classical approach to the rationality of the consumer who is looking to maximize an objective function (utility) within a budgetary constraint (scarcity)...

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