Author:Samuel Haraway (University of California, Davis)
Paper short abstract:
I argue that contemporary sport is best explained as "trials of strength" (Latour 1988) anchored in assemblages of laboratories, materials, bodies, knowledge, institutions and sponsorships. This conception of "techno-sport" raises additional questions concerning subjectivity, agency, and doping.
Paper long abstract:
This paper is a socio-historical study of the "techno-athlete" that treats Lance Armstrong's seven-consecutive Tour de France victories (1999-2005) and doping controversy as a case by which to reexamine questions concerning subjectivity, agency, and doping in sport. I first reconstruct sport as "trials of strength" (Latour 1988) between heterogenous actor-networks. Far from competitions between human individuals or symbolic representations of the "pure" body, what I call "techno-sport" is anchored in the assemblages of laboratories, materials, bodies, knowledge, institutions, sponsorships, and so on, by which contemporary sport unfolds. I then explore Armstrong's training for the 1999-2005 Tours de France as translations of the self by which aerodynamic science, nutrition regimes, clothing and equipment designs, periodized training methods, and blood-boosting techniques (by PEDs and altitude training alike), generate a techno-athlete who is at once distributed and centered by a heterogeneous network (Mialet 2012). By understanding sport as a material and collective process we can escape the myth of the singularized, heroic athlete around which the biopolitics of anti-doping expands today. I ask, what becomes of skilled performances, the subjectivity and agency of the contemporary athlete, in light of the heterogeneous collectivities through which contemporary sport unfolds?
Sport, Technoscience, Medicine and Performance