Doping poses a threat to sport worldwide, including in Europe. It undermines the principle of open and fair competition. It is a demotivating factor for sport in general and puts the professional under unreasonable pressure. It seriously affects the image of sport and poses a serious threat to individual health.
Yet doping is far more than that and it does not only exist in the professional sports field. Studies commissioned by the European Commission have revealed that amateur athletes are also making increasing use of performance-enhancing drugs. Doping has thus increasingly become an issue that affects the whole of society. At European level, the fight against doping must take into account both a law-enforcement and a health and prevention dimension, in addition to the standard approach found in the established anti-doping community, based on doping bans, testing and sanctions..
Many different actors are trying to tackle the problem of doping and the Commission is looking, together with Member States, for ways to link the work of the various actors better. In this context, the Commission maintains regular contacts with Member States, the Council of Europe, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The Commission has been a regular observer in the Council of Europe's anti-doping structures for over a decade. The Commission is occasionally obliged to play its role as guardian of the Treaties as anti-doping rules, procedures and practices may occasionally turn out not to comply with relevant EU law. This became topical, in recent years, in relation to data protection due to the existence of specific EU rules on data protection (Directive 95/46/EC). However, the Commission has consistently sought to enter into dialogue with the relevant actors and to find solutions helping the anti-doping community to avoid litigation, administrative complaints, industrial action and bad publicity. The best way to strengthen the fight against doping is to ensure that it is based on rules that do not invite these types of reactions. Also, divergence in Member States' implementation of the Directive has been an issue in the anti-doping community. In January 2012, the Commission submitted a legislative proposal aiming to replace the existing Directive by a Regulation. If adopted as foreseen, this new law would ensure that a harmonised system is in place across the EU, with greatly simplified procedures and reduced costs, to the benefit of the anti-doping community as well as all other sectors of society. "Lisbonisation" can be felt in this area, too. As part of its roll-out of the new EU sport competence (Article 165 TFEU ), the Council has become a very active and pro-active player in relation to doping-related discussions at EU level. In adopting its "European Union Work Plan for Sport for 2011-2014", alongside five other Expert Groups, the Council set up an EU Expert Group on Anti-Doping (XG AD). It builds on, and replaces, the former informal EU Working Group on Anti-Doping. The new Expert Group reports to the Council and has, in this role, been able to prepare the first EU contribution to the revision of the World Anti-Doping Code, which was submitted by the Danish EU Presidency to WADA in March 2012. The Council has since then extended the mandate of the XG AD, asking it to accompany the revision of the World Anti-Doping Code until its end (late 2013) and also to prepare EU recommendations on doping prevention in recreational sports.