The challenges of harmonising anti-doping policy implementation

Daniel Read, James Skinner, Aaron C.T. Smith, Daniel Lock, Maylin Stanic

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The policy-implementation gap conceptualises how policy intentions and outcomes often differ due to a failure to consider the realities of implementation. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) directs Olympic anti-doping policy, seeking to harmonise anti-doping policy globally; however, the realisation of consistent implementation has proven challenging. A major cause of inconsistent policy implementation is inter-signatory variation, but the mechanisms of variation are poorly understood. WADA provides an excellent example to explore why policy gaps occur in international sport governance. Consequently, we aimed to analyse the different types of inter-signatory variation in anti-doping policy and identify practical solutions to address inter-signatory variation in anti-doping. Data were collected from the Regional Anti-Doping Programme (RADO), a group of organisations tasked with increasing the capacity of NADOs globally. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 22 RADO staff and board members who were sampled as key informants to discuss how inter-signatory variation affects anti-doping policy compliance. Following reflexive thematic analysis, we identified four thematic categories explaining inter-signatory variation in anti-doping implementation: (1) socio-geographic, (2) political, (3) organisational, and (4) human resources. Based on our analysis, we theorise why the policy-implementation gap occurs and provide recommendations to improve anti-doping policy implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalSport Management Review
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


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