Horses for Courses: A Socio-Legal Discourse on Non-Human Athletes and Doping Regulation
This paper is concerned with doping and controlled medication irregularities in equestrianism and horse racing. No derivative of the WADA Code, with its preoccupation with strict liability and reverse burdens of proof, is fit for purpose for equines. As groundwork for that debate this paper specifically seeks to counter the received truth that the horse is merely the subject of a minority interest pastime, nostalgia and/or an anachronism. The construct of the horse has shifted dramatically but the economic and social importance has not diminished. The horse is no longer constructed as a beast of burden, weapon of war, implement of industry and agriculture but as an athlete-celebrity. As such the horse still contributes with comparable importance to the economy and to society as a cultural icon. The relationship between Equus Ferus Caballus and Homo Sapiens is unique, special and enduring and has merely reached a new phase requiring specific, tailored research and debate on doping and controlled medication of these non-human sports participants to avoid miscarriages of justice. This paper refutes the commonly held view that the horse is at best a quaint reminder of our past, exploring uses that the horse is now put to in education, therapy and of course sport and recreation. Although it is true to say that the horse has significantly diminished as a source of physical power this is too crude a measure of the importance of the horse to society. Instead the status of the horse as athlete-celebrity can be established by reference to the fact that it remains a dominant cultural feature by its representation in art, literature, film and television. In tandem with this sporting prowess can bring a horse celebrity status. Taken as a totality these factors better measure the contribution the horse makes to 21st Century life.
Citation : Merritt, J. (2015) Horses for Courses: A Socio-Legal Discourse on Non-Human Athletes and Doping Regulation. SLSA National Conference, University of Warwick, 31st March - 2nd April 2015.
Peer Reviewed : Yes
- Department of Law