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Sports physicians, ethics and antidoping governance: between assistance and negligence
  1. Nenad Dikic1,2,
  2. Michael McNamee3,
  3. Heinz Günter2,
  4. Snezana Samardzic Markovic4,5,
  5. Bojan Vajgic1
  1. 1Antidoping Agency of Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia
  2. 2FIBA Europe Medical Council, Munich, Germany
  3. 3College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University, Swansea, UK
  4. 4Ministry of Youth and Sport, Belgrade, Serbia
  5. 5WADA Foundation Board, Belgrade, Serbia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Michael McNamee, College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK; m.j.mcnamee{at}


Recent positive doping cases and a series of mistakes of medical doctors of the International Federation of Basketball have reopened the debate about the role of medical doctor in elite sport. This study shows that some sports physicians involved in recent positive doping cases are insufficiently aware of the nuances of doping regulations and, most importantly, of the list of prohibited substances. Moreover, several team doctors are shown to have exercised poor judgement in relation to these matters with the consequence that athletes are punished for doping offences on the basis of doctors’ negligence. In such circumstances, athletes’ rights are jeopardised by a failure of the duty of care that (sports) physicians owe their athlete patients. We argue that, with respect to the World Anti Doping Code, antidoping governance fails to define, with sufficient clarity, the role of medical doctors. There is a need for a new approach emphasising urgent educational and training of medical doctors in this domain, which should be considered prior to the revision of the next World Anti Doping Code in 2013 in order to better regulate doctor's conduct especially in relation to professional errors, whether negligent or intentional.

  • Doping
  • Ethics

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