Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Doctor of Philosophy




Schneider, Angela J.


This research strived to address age-old concerns clouding the governance of sport technologies, specifically in sports under the Olympic umbrella. Anti-doping has long been a mandatory clause in the Olympic Charter. Yet, other forms of technological incursions have long been left unaddressed or prohibited via premature reactive judgments. Utilizing a multidimensional philosophical lens encompassing scholarship in the fields of philosophy of sport, applied ethics and the philosophy of technology - this thesis is aimed at creating an accessible, structured, and principled ethical framework to guide the integration of emerging technologies within Olympic sports. Taking an analytical look into WADA’s underlying guiding principles for its anti-doping policy, several discrepancies have been unearthed; these gaps reside generally within the 'spirit of sport' interpretive weaknesses, as well as problems rooted in naturalistic misconceptions. Through reflective consideration of sporting ideals and principles inherent in leading conceptions of Fair Play and the Fundamental Principles of Olympism, this research distills these philosophies into a benchmark - ‘the conditions for the ideal Olympic Contest’. The evaluation process, throughout this study, leans on this benchmark for guidance.

A rich understanding of sports' technological biases was brought to life by Feenberg's critical theory of technology. The subsequent stage developed an analytical structure discerning six primary technological orientations: Technology intended to facilitate constitutive elements; Technology intended to restore performance; Technology intended to improve performance; Technology intended to promote safety; Technology intended to monitor officiating and integrity; and Technology intended to enhance consumption and participation. These technologies are assessed using the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE), aiding judgment about 'good effects' lining up with prescribed conditions for the ‘Ideal Olympic Contest’ balanced against foreseeable 'bad effects'. To demonstrate practical utility two hypothetical cases were explored: HOTA - an AI assistant coach, and mRNA protein therapy intended for performance enhancement. This study delivers a pragmatic toolkit for academics and professionals alike - a 'fair play' counterbalance to the ever-growing risks posed by emerging technologies in Olympic sports.

Summary for Lay Audience

The prevalence of emerging technologies is rapidly reshaping the face of sports, in particular those under the Olympic umbrella. AI and advanced gear now pervade competitions, testing the bounds of fairness. This study addresses this need by creating an accessible model for ethical decision-making, encouraging and guiding sports regulatory bodies away from reactive policy making and towards principled foresight grounded in ethical principles. Informed by work from the fields of philosophy of sport, applied ethics, and philosophy of technology, the model fosters proactive, principled governance. I started with unearthing limitations in existing anti-doping policies which have long been used to regulate enhancing technologies but are proving inadequate given rapid and wide ranging technological advancements. These policies often reference under defined concepts like "spirit of sport" without being anchored on solid moral foundations or transparent accessible reasoning. In this thesis, I have developed a philosophical foundation using literature on sportsmanship, fair play and the fundamental principles of Olympism, distilling it down into key ideals or conditions constitutive for what I termed as the “Ideal Olympic Contest”. This builds clarity around aspects like safety, equality, justice - essentially addressing how innovation should be evaluated against these values pillars. To further reinforce this structure, I categorized technology in sport using an intention focused lens: does the technology aim at restoring performance? Improving performance? Promoting safety? Integrating intention with the foreseeable unintended impact, while weighing these elements against the developed benchmark - the conditions for the ideal Olympic contest. Two hypothetical cases were examined: an AI assistant coach (HOTA), and mRNA protein therapies aimed at boosting performance; by assessing benefits lined up against potential 'bad effects'. Both became useful by illuminating complex interplays between advancements matched against potential consequences breaching fair play norms or the ratified principles underlying Olympism, thereby exposing detailed dilemmas when faced with integrating emerging technologies into Olympic sports.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.