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The case for and against harm reduction approaches to drugs in sport
  1. Craig L Fry
  1. Correspondence to Professor C L Fry, Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing, Victoria University, Footscray, VIC 8001, Australia; craig.fry{at}

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The use of drugs and other forms of ‘doping’ in sport is not new. Nor are the efforts by sporting officials and other institutions to control what many regard as the most serious example of cheating and unfair advantage in the sports context.

What is relatively new in this domain is the extent to which the ethical arguments for and against anti-doping (or alternative) approaches in sport have been held up to sustained critical scrutiny—beyond the relatively one-dimensional issues of costs, processes and impacts.

The purpose of this Journal of Medical Ethics mini-symposium is to focus on that area of the ethical debate on ‘doping’ in sport that has been dominated by the two competing approaches of anti-doping and health based harm minimisation. It does so in the form of three papers provided by recognised experts in the field of drugs in sport.

Each of the papers1–3 takes a unique stance on the case for and against harm reduction approaches to drugs in sport. These works add to the academic debate by clarifying some of the current thinking and suggesting alternative perspectives. None of the papers settles the arguments once and for all—such is the challenge of the drugs in sport dilemma. However, together, they serve to highlight some questions and issues that may warrant further examination.

Mazanov's1 paper provides a helpful overview of the ethical debate surrounding drug control in sport. It summarises the two main arguments of anti-doping (athlete health and integrity centred) and health based harm minimisation (athlete health through medical oversight and regulation of …

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  • Funding CLF leads the Culture and Values in Health research programme at the Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing, and is a research affiliate of the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University. He has received research funding from the Australian NHMRC, ARC, philanthropic bodies, and federal and state governments.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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