Managing compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code: China’s strategies and their implications

Tien Chin Tan*, Alan Bairner, Yu Wen Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


With the problems of doping in sport becoming more serious, the World Anti-Doping Code was drafted by the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2003 and became effective one year later. Since its passage, the Code has been renewed four times, with the fourth and latest version promulgated in January 2015. The Code was intended to tackle the problems of doping in sports through cooperation with governments to ensure fair competition as well as the health of athletes. To understand China’s strategies for managing compliance with the Code and also the implications behind those strategies, this study borrows ideas from theories of compliance. China’s high levels of performance in sport, judged by medal success, have undoubtedly placed the country near the top of the global sports field. Therefore, how China acts in relation to international organizations, and especially how it responds to the World Anti-Doping Agency, is highly significant for the future of elite sport and for the world anti-doping regime. Through painstaking efforts, the researchers visited Beijing to conduct field research four times and interviewed a total of 22 key sports personnel, including officials at the General Administration of Sports of China, the China Anti-Doping Agency, and individual sport associations, as well as sport scholars and leading officials of China’s professional sports leagues. In response to the World Anti-Doping Agency, China developed strategies related to seven institutional factors: ‘monitoring’, ‘verification’, ‘horizontal linkages’, ‘nesting’, ‘capacity building’, ‘national concern’ and ‘institutional profile’. As for the implications, the Chinese government is willing and able to comply with the World Anti-Doping Agency Code. In other words, the Chinese government is willing to pay a high price in terms of money, manpower and material resources so that it can recover from the disgrace suffered as a result of doping scandals in the 1990s. The government wants to ensure that China’s prospects as a participant, bidder and host of mega sporting events are not compromised, especially as the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-271
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Review for the Sociology of Sport
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020 May 1


  • China
  • World Anti-Doping Code
  • compliance
  • government
  • performance-enhancing drugs
  • strategy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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