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A Renewed Analysis of Cheating in Contests: Theory and Evidence from Recovery Doping

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  • Sebastian Bervoets

    () (Aix-Marseille University (Aix-Marseille School of Economics), EHESS & CNRS)

  • Bruno Decreuse

    () (Aix-Marseille University (Aix-Marseille School of Economics), EHESS & CNRS)

  • Mathieu Faure

    () (Aix-Marseille University (Aix-Marseille School of Economics), EHESS & CNRS)

Abstract

In rank-order tournaments, players have incentives to cheat in order to increase their probability of winning the prize. Usually, cheating is seen as a technology that allows individuals to illegally increase their best potential performances. This paper argues that cheating can alternatively be seen as a technology that ensures that the best performances are reached more often. We call this technology recovery doping and show that it yields new insights on the effects of cheating: recovery doping lowers performance uncertainty, thereby changing the outcome of the contest in favour of the best players. We develop this theory in a game with player heterogeneity and performance uncertainty and then study the results of the cross-country skiing World Cup between 1987 and 2006. In line with our theoretical predictions, race-specific rankings were remarkably stable during the 1990s, subsequently becoming more volatile. This pattern reflects the rise and fall of synthetic EPO and the emergence of blood testing and profiling.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastian Bervoets & Bruno Decreuse & Mathieu Faure, 2014. "A Renewed Analysis of Cheating in Contests: Theory and Evidence from Recovery Doping," AMSE Working Papers 1441, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, France, revised Jun 2015.
  • Handle: RePEc:aim:wpaimx:1441
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