SUSU Researchers Do Interdisciplinary Studies to Fight against Doping

Doping is one of the most serious issues in modern professional sport around the world. This is a complex issue which comprises legal, psychological, medical, social, pedagogical, and other aspects. Scientists from the Institute of Law and the Institute of Sport, Tourism, and Service of South Ural State University are completing joint research with the goal of developing an interdisciplinary approach to studying the doping issues and improving anti-doping education in Russia.

What Is Anti-Doping Law?

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from South Ural State University is working on the issues of legal education in sport. Today, the activity of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is of great research and practical interest in sport and legal science. But the legal nature and legal content of the World Anti-Doping Code, including the practice of its application, lead to many debates and complaints. Employees of the SUSU Institute of Law and Institute of Sport, Tourism, and Service are exploring this complex topic together.

“The legal regulation of relationships in sports at the national and international level has multiple components. The concept of “sport law” used in international practice is complex in itself and includes private and public legal norms. The national and international organisations for each sport form their own rules, and the public legal part of anti-doping regulations consists of a number of national anti-doping acts and international documents,” says Director of the SUSU ISTS, Vadim Ehrlich.

Pictured: Director of the SUSU ISTS, Vadim Ehrlich

Anti-Doping Law is part of sports law, and in the recent past its private law component was represented by national and international anti-doping rules. With the introduction of the World Anti-Doping Code in 2003, a unified international legal document was created.

WADA is an Organisation with a Special Legal Status

The World Anti-Doping Agency is an organisation with special legal status. WADA was formed in 1999 not in the typical format based on international public law (for example, a state institution or intergovernmental organisation), but as a private foundation, under Swiss law.

“Despite its de jure private nature, WADA has a range of public functions: fighting against doping in sport in all its forms (including instilling in athletes a spirit of intolerance towards doping, and the development of anti-doping education), and acting as an organisation which sets standards on a worldwide level in the form of the list of prohibited substances and international technical standards for doping tests. And although the WADA Code is formally based on instruments of private law, its legal nature is more of a mixed nature and is neither a public, nor private component of sports law,” explains one of the participants of the project, Oleg Dubrovin, Chairman of the Public Chamber of the Chelyabinsk Region, Associate Professor of the SUSU Department of the Department of the Theory of Government and Law, Constitutional and Administrative Law.

Another document which contains the norms of anti-doping regulation is the International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI) which is an integral part of the World Anti-Doping Code and is mandatory according to the International Standard which was developed as part of the International Anti-Doping Programme. At present, ISTI operates with amendments and additions that were approved on November 15, 2013 by the WADA Executive Committee within the frameworks of the International Convention Against Doping in Sport held in Johannesburg.

Fighting against Doping in Russia

In the Russian Federation, the legal definition of doping is part of Federal Law “On Physical Culture and Sport in the Russian Federation” and totally conforms with the definition of this offence used in the WADC. The list of doping substances and methods prohibited in Russian sport was created in accordance with the WADA International Standard. This list is approved by the federal executive body authorised by the Government of the Russian Federation, specifically by the Ministry of Sport of the Russian Federation.

To prevent anti-doping violations, the Russian legislation stipulates measures aimed at preventing doping in sport and fighting against it. The anti-doping education should be a significant part of these measures. Both the athletes themselves and the sporting federations are interested in these measures.

“Unfortunately, the relevant academic programmes are in the stage of development and are regulated by the World Anti-Doping Agency only in the form of a list of topics that are recommended. There is no systematic anti-doping education, there is no clearly-defined structure, form, or method of teaching, which leads to insufficient efficiency and makes it necessary to develop new scientifically-based, pedagogical methods to fight doping,” explains Evgeny Cherepov, Head of the Department of Physical Education and Health of the Institute of Sport, Tourism and Service.

According to leading researchers and specialists, anti-doping education must have the form of a consistent pedagogical process through educating athletes on complying with the principles of fair fight, rejecting prohibited substances and violation of the sports ethics. The pedagogical aspect of anti-doping policies plays a huge role in shaping young athletes’ relationship towards prohibited substances.

Anti-Doping Programs in Education

Today, distance education courses and Massive Open Online Courses, as well as mobile applications are very popular. For example, in 2017, the Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA released a programme for distance education called “Anti-Doping”. A similar educational platform is used by national Olympic committees and anti-doping agencies in Europe and by international sport federations. The biggest platform for Massive Open Online Courses is “Doping: Sports, Organisations, and Sciences”. The course was developed by a team of teachers from University of Lausanne and international experts. The course is based on an interdisciplinary approach which enables the understanding of doping as a complex phenomenon. In the spring of 2017, the Anti-Doping Pro mobile application appeared, which was supported by RUSADA and the Ministry of Sport of the Russian Federation.

“Despite the measures taken against doping, the legal and academic components of anti-doping policy in the Russian Federation are just being formed. Solving these issues includes a whole system of measures, actions, and processes, which can include joint interdisciplinary research on legal and social pedagogical problems of doping offenses,” says Elena Titova, Head of the Department of the Theory of Government and Law, Constitutional and Administrative Law of the SUSU Institute of Law.

Researchers from South Ural State University have set themselves a goal to develop new models of interdisciplinary educational anti-doping programmes with the possibility of creating individual academic plans thanks to the inclusion of several academic standards (legal and sport ones). The creation of this academic programme will not be worked on by a separate division of the university, but by an interdisciplinary team of representatives from sport and legal science, education, and sport federations, formed in a research laboratory. The results of this research are published in the scientific journal Theory and Practice of Physical Culture.

Olga Romanovskaia; photo by: Oleg Igoshin
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