Doping, "Mechanical Doping" and Local Essentialism in the Individuation of Sports

Pike, Jon (2018). Doping, "Mechanical Doping" and Local Essentialism in the Individuation of Sports. In: Morgan, William J. ed. Ethics in Sport: Third Edition. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics, pp. 321–335.



This chapter discusses the case of Femke Van den Dreissche, Belgian cyclo-cross rider caught with an electronic motor concealed in her bike. I use the case to open up discussion of the purported similarities between doping and 'mechanical doping'. Should our intuitions about what is morally wrong with using an electronic bike line up with out intuitions about what is wrong with using performance enhancing drugs in competitive sports? I consider several purported differences. I claim that cycling would cease to be cycling if pedalling became peripheral. Cycling therefore has a local essence, just as football has a local essence - and the activity changes when handling and throwing the ball is allowed. Since cycling is about pedalling, we need criteria of pedalling well, and these criteria exclude pedalling whilst on PEDs. Hence there is a non-conventional reason for forbidding their use.

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