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‘Gene doping’ could be the future of athletics. But is that a bad thing?

| | May 8, 2019
Image: Ralf Hiemisch
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

[A] technique could theoretically be used to add muscle bulk to athletes, a concept called gene doping. Doctors could, theoretically, inject cells with enhanced genes into the relevant body part or use a benign virus to deliver modified cells. These superhumans could be the elite athletes of the future — athletes who perform faster, higher, and stronger than any “natural” human ever could.

There’s no evidence that anyone has tried this procedure — which has never been tested — but in 2003, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) proactively banned gene doping.

But is it right to dismiss gene doping in sports so quickly? What if gene-doping techniques were intrinsically different — and safer — compared to other doping techniques? And given the drive for perfection that governs elite sports, is enhancing performance all but inevitable?

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Marcy Darnovsky, director of the Berkeley, California–based nonprofit Center for Genetics and Society, says she supports gene editing for medically justified treatments “as long as it can be shown to be safe and effective.” But as gene editing becomes more widespread, it could lead to not just enhanced athletes, but athletes who could be designed from birth to be fully optimized.

Read full, original post: Should Athletes Be Allowed to Enhance Their Genes?

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