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Submission to the Commonwealth Department of Health Anti Doping Research Program by Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law
Cycling has a reputation as having an entrenched doping culture existing within a closed community where some bending of the rules has been seen as historically permissible, if not required in order to cope with the exceptional nature of its events. The closed nature of the peloton is regarded as being one of the greatest challenges for any intervention initiated from the outside (see Dauncey, 2003; Schneider, 2006). The objective of this research is to examine the attitudes of Australia professional cyclists ("the Australian peloton") and those that they interact with including team managers and staff, sporting and medical advisors, sporting administrators, sponsors and government (“their cohort”). This research is critical given the current doping policy paradigm, its operation, effectiveness and limitations. This study seeks to identify factors which lead to the current anti doping regime to be less effective than desired and to propose practical measures to increase that effectiveness.
Currently the Australian peloton includes at least 30 members racing in European based professional teams and another 80 members riding in continental professional teams outside of Europe. In 2007, Australia was ranked 3rd in the world and 4th following the 2008 World Championships. Given the long history of interaction between professional cycling in Australia and the rest of the world, particularly Europe, the Australia peloton provides an experienced but manageable sized group with which to engage in order to undertake such a project. Furthermore, given the history of interaction with Europe and other parts of the cycling world, there is nothing to suggest that the Australia situation vis a vis doping and attitudes to anti-doping policy are any different within the Australian peloton than any other highly ranked cycling nation.
Over the past decade the sport has been subjected to a number of internal crises and increasing external scrutiny. Nevertheless the problem of doping and how effectively to deal with it remain an important and unresolved issue. The last ten years have seen increased scrutiny of professional cycling, in a large part due to the events of the 1998 Tour de France involving the Festina and other teams. In fact this event is in part credited with the movement towards the formation of WADA. More recently there has been the Operacion Puerto enquiry in Spain, and the successive problems associated with the last three editions of the Tour de France (2006 – Landis; 2007 – Rasmussen, Vinokourov, Mayo; 2008 - Kohl, Schumacher, Ricco & Piepoli) which have raised the issue as to the effectiveness of current anti doping policy and its attempts at changing behaviour in relation to doping practices within cycling.
The observations of Schneider (2006) concerning the closed nature of the peloton as a barrier to change are enlightening in the context of the developments of anti-doping policy over the last 10 years. During this time outside intervention has taken the form of criminal investigations, the development of a World Anti Doping Agency and Code, the changing nature and frequency of testing within cycling and the development of biological passports. As can be seen from this brief list, anti doping policy has been concerned primarily with detection, investigation, prosecution and punishment. In short, anti doping has been a policing activity, and as such it appears to have failed to engage those who are the objects of that activity, nor has it led to broad cultural change within the sport. It is arguable that these measures have in fact contributed towards the peloton becoming even more closed and as a result incapable of fully grasping the nature of the changes occurring within the sport.
Without engaging cyclists (other than as objects of surveillance and prosecution) it is arguable that it is becoming evident to sporting administrators that the current anti doping policy pursued within the sport of cycling is not as effective as it could be and has not as yet led to widespread cultural change of attitudes within the peloton. Without more education it is arguable that such a policy is unsustainable. This is compounded when it is noted that a great deal of the current policy has been formulated as a result of media and related crises within cycling. Schneider (2006) has remarked that the history of the nature of the problem of doping in cycling is constructed in large part from the extensive media coverage of it. As a result of policy being media or crisis driven it appears that little sociological or legal research has been undertaken which considers the relationship between those who are the object of this policing and those who are doing the policing.
Due to the forces of globalisation there are real processes occurring which interact with and effect the development of elite sport policy globally. The current context and changes occurring within professional cycling may well be characterised as processes of structural re-adjustment whereby the old European based cycling economy is being subjected to the pressures of the globalisation of the sport. Anti-doping policy and the fact that cycling is in the ‘eye of the storm’ has to be viewed within this context. These factors not only include the substantive policy framework in terms of an increasingly global anti doping legislative regime but also the discursive construction of those processes within subsystems, communities and the media. As both Houlihan (2005) and Schneider (2006) have noted to some extent, it is the discursive constructions that tend to shape and mediate policy production processes. Dauncey (2003) has also recognised that cycling has a particularly complicated normative framework or frameworks. He has identified at least four normative frameworks that constrain and direct participation in an event such as the Tour de France including the rules of the race, the rules of society, culture and politics, international views on sports and ethics and the internal rules of the peloton itself. Within these frameworks there exist a number of groups that form a broad policy community or communities. However, not all actors within the purview of such communities are able to openly voice their concerns within such a community, especially when one of those policy communities, the peloton, seeks to protect its interests through silence.
In undertaking this research the project will adopt and apply the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) developed by Houlihan (2005) in his work on elite sports policy development. The ACF framework will also be informed by practice, context and the notions of reflexive sociology pursued by Bourdieu (1992, 1990). The ACF focuses upon identifying the dominant policy paradigms that set the parameters for any policy change and the discursive story lines or rationales of those involved in or affected by policy development. Finally the ACF model proposes the concept of policy brokerage in order to engage those involved in and affected by policy changes in order to achieve the neatest possible marriage between the rhetoric of the policy and the reality of the practice it seeks to address.
Research Aims and Objectives
* To examine the dominant paradigm, its rationales and focus for anti doping policy affecting Australian professional cyclists ("the Australian peloton");
* To determine the policy and normative framework, its current form and the changes it has undergone in the medium long term;
* To identify the story lines which support the various positions within the sport, and in particular those of the cyclists comprising the Australian peloton;
* To propose measures by which the gap between the reality of the cyclists practice and culture and the rhetoric of the dominant anti doping paradigm may be reduced.
* To ascertain the potential for policy brokerage within the existing policy and normative framework;
* To assess the potential for practical implementation and export of the model to the international professional cycling tours.
* To examine into the attitudes of Australian professional cyclists ("the Australian peloton") and those that they interact with (team managers and staff, sporting and medical advisors, sporting administrators, sponsors and government – “their cohort”) in relation to the current doping paradigm, its operations, effectiveness and problems;
* To identify factors which lead to the current anti doping regime to be less effective than desired and to propose practical measures to increase that effectiveness;
* To clearly identify and define the international, national, public, civil, criminal and sporting norms and policies (“the normative framework”) that the Australian peloton is subject to;
* To gather evidence concerning the complexity of the current normative framework so that it can be better understood.
* To identify the rationales and specific focus of each instrument contained in the normative framework and to analyse their influence on policy formulation and their contribution to the practical effectiveness of anti doping policy.
* To identify and explain structural relationships in policy networks, communities and advocacy coalitions.
* To pursue an explanation and critical evaluation of the social phenomena, their associated practices and the material structures which they produce, which in turn helps sustain those practices.
* To apply factors identified in this study when formulating ways in which to make anti doping policy may be made more practically effective.
* To identify the range of possible policy options that may improve the effectiveness or perception of effectiveness of anti-doping policy.
* To facilitate a means by which the closed peloton may be able to engage in dialogue with those who have the ultimate responsibility for setting the policy framework without the fear of retribution.
* To consider the relationship between those who are the object of the policing and those who are doing the policing and the attitudes and practices of those that are sought to be policed to that activity.
* To understand the place of the core actors (the pro cyclists) within the policy context within which they operate and to facilitate brokerage between those actors and the administrative, sporting, policy, government and commercial actors with whom they interact.
In undertaking this research the project will adopt and apply the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) developed by Houlihan (2005) in his work on elite sports policy development. The ACF framework will also be informed by practice, context and the notions of reflexive sociology pursued by Bourdieu (1992, 1990).
The ACF focuses upon identifying the dominant policy paradigms that set the parameters for any policy change and the discursive story lines or rationales of those involved in or affected by policy development. Finally, the ACF model proposes the concept of policy brokerage in order to engage those involved in and affected by policy changes in order to achieve the neatest possible marriage between the rhetoric of the policy and the reality of the practice it seeks to address.
The project will involve four primary research methods:
1. Qualitative Document Analysis;
2. Semi Structured Interviews;
3. Workshops and Feedback Loops; and
4. Policy Brokerage.
Qualitative Document Analysis (QDA)
QDA involves the analysis of policy and legal documents and the sedimentations of social and political practices that they contain.
One of the first tasks of the project will be to identify through a process of Qualitative Document Analysis the instruments forming the complete anti-doping normative framework affecting the Australian peloton. This framework consisting of multiple conventions, codes, legislation and sporting rules emanates from multiple geographical (e.g., international, regional, and national) and types (e.g., public, civil, sporting and criminal laws) of jurisdictions. Not only are members of the Australian peloton subject to the norms set out in relation to professional cycling by the international and national governing bodies, the International Cycling Union (UCI) and Cycling Australia (CA), but those instruments themselves exist within the framework of international instruments such as the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) Code and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Charter. Furthermore this framework interacts with public law in Australia by way of the Australian Sports Anti Doping Agency (ASADA) Act and its provisions governing for instance the conduct of appeals in relation to doping offences. However, Australian cyclists throughout the season are also subject to the national laws of other countries and of the organisations that conduct the events in which they compete. In some cases, such as in France and Italy, the homes of two of the three Grand Tours, the Australian peloton is subject to the criminal law as well.
The research will seek to identify the current dominant paradigm (or paradigms) policies, and legal framework of anti doping policy affecting the Australian peloton and the manner in which this set of values and assumptions influence policy choice and personal and administrative practice.
The process of Qualitative Document Analysis sets the ground for the second part of this project involving interviews and workshops with members of the Australian peloton and their cohort. Clearly articulating the basis and rationale for the existing anti-doping policy framework and articulating that to those subject to it will allow subsequent discussions to proceed in an informed manner. As noted above different policy justifications influence the focus of the instruments, the policy and the practice related to them and as such it is argued that an understanding of the situation from the perspective of those subject to such controls and regulation is crucial step towards increasing the practical effectiveness of any such regime.
A question to be ultimately answered by this process is whether a bringing together of the rhetoric of and the practice is possible within the current policy framework and if so how could such a position be brokered within the sport of professional cycling? This part of the project lays the groundwork for such an assessment.
Semi Structured Interviews
Semi structured Interviews will be conducted with both members of the peloton and their cohort. Interviews will be based upon an interview guide and open ended, informal probing in order to facilitate open discussion of the issues. Interviews will be conducted in a secure and confidential manner so as not to compromise the project or the position of those who undertake such interviews. Identities of interviewees will be suitably concealed so as not to compromise their identity or the process of the project. Such steps to ensure confidentiality, security and the immunity from prosecution are crucial in guaranteeing the success of the project and it is argued, in fact, any real and effective cultural change within the peloton.
The focus on policy orientation in the QDA process is a key but its emphasis on medium term rationality needs to be tempered with an acknowledgment that policy actors do not always refer to evidence and the weight of expert opinion. Thus identifying "discursive storylines" is a key to establishing and maintaining both entrenched constraints and facilitating factors within the policy process. These storylines are as much a part of the rules of structure formation that set the limits to policy action, both by defining activities that are acceptable and those that are not, as are the actual policy documents such as the anti-doping codes and other legislative instruments.
The rationale for semi structured interviews is to:
· provide an agent informed understanding of practices and processes;
· allow for distinctions to be made between the policy and legal framework, the rhetoric and the reality of practices;
· attempt to discern the normative values and belief systems underlying the peloton and their cohorts perspectives and understandings of the constraining and/or facilitating factors within the structural context.
Questions will relate, but not be limited to perceptions, attitudes and views concerning:
* policy rationale;
* the effects of the changes to policy on practices during the last ten years;
* the effectiveness of current policy;
* the multiplicity and/or inconsistency of different regimes;
* privacy, confidentiality, human rights and free trade;
* concepts such as fair play and cheating;
* the different expectations of sport, of work and business, including the extent to which the structure of the sport as business contributes to an environment which leads to riders being susceptible to illicit performance-enhancing activity;
* the availability of doping and other products and interactions with legal and illegal networks;
* problems related to recovery, stress, medical attention as opposed to doping;
* the normalisation of risk and policy attempts to avoid risk in what amounts to a spectacle of risk;
* the transparency of anti doping procedures and appeal procedures;
* the maintenance of public confidence in the sport; and
* options for future policy and policy brokerage.
Workshops and Feedback Loops
As each stage of the project is undertaken it is planned to engage in workshop style meetings with the peloton and cohorts to discuss the progress of the project, its interim findings, and the available options facing the actors at any given time throughout or following the project. Small group and break-out sessions and focus type groups shall be used when necessary.
These mechanisms will also be used as a part of the process of policy brokerage.
Once the QDA and the peloton’s own normative structure has been examined the final element in the ACF framework is that of policy brokerage. In congested policy making systems there is greater scope for individual policy entrepreneurship. The project is premised upon the fact that cycling suffers from a form of policy congestion and a high degree of disassociation between rhetoric and practice and as such offers a high degree of scope for policy brokerage.
One of the objects of the project is to identify what options and potential are available for the formation of a policy that is consistent with both the position of the peloton, of those who administer and make policy in respect of the sport and the actually existing policy framework.
The question which we seek to answer in the end is whether there is a new and/or complementary approach to anti doping available as a result of incorporating the peloton into the process of policy formulation?
The project will undertake longitudinal analysis by way of its analysis of the policy framework including the Qualitative Document Analysis and an analysis of key events in the evolution of the policy framework (e.g., the 1998 Tour de France, the instigation of the 50% haematocrit health checks).
Another longitudinal aspect of the project will be by through the interview and workshop timetable which will allow for a feedback loop to be established during the process of the project with the relevant actors and stakeholders so that attitudes, policies and possibilities may be discussed and considered by relevant actors throughout the process.
Measures and Action
The ACF method is highly suited to a project which seeks to propose measures that would lead to practical ways to combat doping in professionals cycling.
By identifying the policy framework and the discursive storylines that support and/or undermine that framework the ACF allows for the identification of means by which actors may engage in policy brokerage. The aim of such brokerage would be to propose possible forms of preventative action that might be taken. The success of the project in the context of the Australian peloton will provide a model which may be adopted and exported by other cycling federations and the UCI as well as other sporting sports.
Given that the project covers the fields of sport sociology, sport law and sport management it has the potential to lead not only to practical measures but also the formulation of new and/or revised policies, legislation, rules and procedures. Nevertheless the core worth of the project may be in the manner in which it can create a space for dialogue and the mediation and brokerage of identified issues.