Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from HRJ and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Commentary

The Olympics and harm reduction?

Bengt Kayser1* and Barbara Broers2

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of movement sciences and sports medicine, University of Geneva, 10, rue du Conseil Général, 1205, Geneva, Switzerland

2 Unit for Dependency in Primary Care at the Department of Community Health and Primary Care, University Hospitals of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

For all author emails, please log on.

Harm Reduction Journal 2012, 9:33  doi:10.1186/1477-7517-9-33

Published: 13 July 2012


The current anti-doping policy (‘war on doping’) resembles the ‘war on drugs’ in several aspects, including a zero-tolerance approach, ideology encroaching on human rights and public health principles, high cost using public money for repression and control, and attempts to shape internationally harmonized legal frameworks to attain its aim. Furthermore, even if for different reasons, both wars seem not to be able to attain their objectives, and possibly lead to more harm to society than they can prevent.

The Olympic buzz is mounting and we can expect multiple headlines in the media on doping and anti-doping stories related to this event. In this article we describe current anti-doping policy, reflect on its multiple unplanned consequences, and end with a discussion, if lessons learned from harm reduction experiences in the illicit drugs field could be applied to anti-doping.