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Shermer on doping

Michael Shermer is a columnist at Scientific American who is increasingly interested in Economics. His recent book, The Mind of the Market might be well worth your perusal.

His current column at Scientific American examines doping in sport from both an economic and a personal perspective (Shermer is an avid competitive cyclist). Since it is free it's definitely worth checking out. Here's the economic essence of the piece:

To end doping in sports, the doping game must be restructured so that competing clean is in a Nash equilibrium. That is, the governing bodies of each sport must change the payoff values of the expected outcomes identified in the game matrix. First, when other players are playing by the rules, the payoff for doing likewise must be greater than the payoff for cheating. Second, and perhaps more important, even when other players are cheating, the payoff for playing fair must be greater than the payoff for cheating. Players must not feel like suckers for following the rules.

He lists five changes that would push incentives in this direction. Hat tip: Steve Levitt at Freakonomics.