The dynamics of doping: Lance Armstrong, USADA and the regulation and governance of professional cycling

JA de Bruijn, MLP Groenleer, TWJ van Ruijven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


On 10 October 2012, the United States Anti-Doping Agency published an investigative report on the use of performance-enhancing drugs by professional cyclist Lance Armstrong. The report paints a disconcerting picture of the doping program that Armstrong and his US Postal Service professional cycling team managed to carry out for several years, despite being subject to many inspections. It contains a wealth of unique empirical data, including a large number of affidavits. In this article, we use this data to answer the question of how Armstrong was able to prolong prohibited behavior. In doing so, we focus in particular on the interactions between Armstrong and the many doping inspectors he encountered. Our analysis results in a variety of answers to this question. First, inspectors were confronted with an inspectee who behaved as an “amoral calculator” and acted strategically. The strategies of inspectors were not adequately attuned to such behavior. Second, the team's internal professional control was neutralized by various factors, including its strict hierarchy and the many friendships within the team. And, finally, the environment created strong incentives to start doping and subsequently deny doing so. We argue that the dynamics underlying doping necessitate a combination of measures to regulate the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the field of professional cycling and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalRegulation & Governance
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

published online: 14-04-2015


  • doping
  • inspection
  • Lance Armstrong
  • professional cycling
  • regulation


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