Publication Date

2014

Abstract

This paper describes the construction of the visual space of surveillance by the global anti-doping apparatus, it is a space inhabited daily by professional cyclists. Two principal mechanisms of this apparatus will be discussed—the Whereabouts System and the Biological Passport; in order to illustrate how this space is constructed and how it visualises the invisible act of doping. These mechanisms act to supervise and govern the professional cyclist and work to classify them as either clean or dirty in terms of the use of prohibited doping substances or methods. Contrary to the analysis of liberal anti-doping scholars such as Hanstad, Loland and Møller this paper argues that Foucault’s Panopticon paradigm is a useful tool for the analysis of this apparatus. The Whereabouts System and Biological Passport are the instruments by which the anti-doping apparatus intensifies the construction of the space of surveillance in professional sport. This space of surveillance not only locates and makes visible the physical location of each individual cyclist, but it also makes visible their internal bodily functions, in this case the composition and the fluctuations of the composition of their blood. In making the cyclist visible the instruments do not allow the cause of doping, or the event of doping to be known or observed. Rather what they do is cast the body in terms of abnormalities of time, place or blood. In the case of an abnormality of the cyclist’s blood, the cause itself cannot be identified with any certainty, all that is made visible is a suggestion, or a probability, that doping may have occurred. The ultimate effects are twofold—an internalisation and continual monitoring of one’s self as well as by the authorities, and a radical change in the nature and the definition of the offence of doping. No longer is it positive evidence of doping that is punishable, but what becomes punishable is an abnormality, in the cyclist’s location, or their body, which suggests a probability that the invisible act of doping may have occurred. In the course of this process accepted manners of proving an offence by the use of scientific evidence and expert commentary are transformed. The Whereabouts System and the Biological Passport open up a new manner in which the invisible can be visualised. Through the discourse and the attendant commentary of the expert a new alliance between doping and the law is constructed. The result is a redistribution of the way in which the law visualises and treats the symptoms (the signifier) and the signified act of doping. The Whereabouts System and Biological Passport are the instruments by which the anti-doping apparatus intensifies the construction of the space of surveillance in professional sport. This space of surveillance not only locates and makes visible the physical location of each individual cyclist, but it also makes visible their internal bodily functions, in this case the composition and the fluctuations of the composition of their blood. In making the cyclist visible the instruments do not allow the cause of doping, or the event of doping to be known or observed. Rather what they do is cast the body in terms of abnormalities of time, place or blood. In the case of an abnormality of the cyclists’s blood, the cause itself cannot be identified with any certainty, all that is made visible is a suggestion, or a probability, that doping may have occurred. The ultimate effects are twofold—an internalisation and continual monitoring of one’s self as well as by the authorities, and a radical change in the nature and the definition of the offence of doping. No longer is it positive evidence of doping that is punishable, but what becomes punishable is an abnormality, in the cyclist’s location, or their body, which suggests a probability that the invisible act of doping may have occurred. In the course of this process accepted manners of proving an offence by the use of scientific evidence and expert commentary are transformed. The Whereabouts System and the Biological Passport open up a new manner in which the invisible can be visualised. Through the discourse and the attendant commentary of the expert a new alliance between doping and the law is constructed. The result is a redistribution of the way in which the law visualises and treats the symptoms (the signifier) and the signified act of doping.

Document Type

Journal Article

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