The article provides an analysis of the transition of antidoping policy from a series of relatively discrete processes, confined to individual sports, events, or countries, to a global policy that comprises a complex network of relationships involving governmental and nongovernmental organizations. Regime theory is used to examine the nature of the policy process at the international level, focusing particularly on the difficulties of defining the objective of harmonization and of achieving compliance. The characteristics of the regime are identified, and issues of resource dependence, capacity building, verification of compliance, and the increasing centrality of government to policy implementation are examined. Despite the constant risk of defection and the tensions within the regime, the conclusion is drawn that the regime should not be deemed ineffective. Increasing effectiveness, however, is likely to occur at the cost of progressive marginalization of sports organizations.
Barrie Houlihan is with the Institute of Sport and Leisure Policy at Loughborough University, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, UK.