Is “Gene Doping” Wrong?
In recent years, the International Olympic Committee and other sports organizations have worried about the possible misuse of gene-transfer technology. But the sports world seems intent on exploiting this technology in pursuit of gold medals and championships, and genetic testing may be the wave of the future.
Two Australian Football League teams have hinted that they are looking into tests that would indicate an athlete’s likely height, stamina, speed, and strength. Indeed, for some, “gene doping” now represents the Holy Grail of performance enhancement, while for others it means the end of sports as we know it.
The prospect of a future of genetically modified athletes incites alarm throughout the sports world, accompanied by portrayals of such athletes as inhuman or some form of mutant. This is a misrepresentation of how gene transfer would alter humans, both therapeutically and non-therapeutically, should it ever be legalized. But the fear that rogue scientists will take advantage of athletes – or that athletes will seek to enroll in gene-transfer experiments in an attempt to receive some undetectable performance benefit – is very real.
We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.
To continue reading, subscribe now.
Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.
Already have an account or want to create one? Log in