Is gene doping the future of cheating?

Thursday, June 15, 2017. Author Pleuni Hooijman Ph.D

Using DNA for an unfair advantage?

Elite athletes are lucky enough to have inherited the genetic variations enabling them to perform at the top level of their sport. Although environmental and motivational factors are as important for an athlete’s success, without the right set of genetic variants it makes it much tougher to reach the top. The use of gene doping can potentially increase someone’s physical capabilities in terms of strength and endurance, so it may emerge as the new frontier of cheating.

With hundreds of genetic variations linked to human fitness and performance, coupled with rapid developments in gene therapy, it is not surprising that the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) included gene doping on their list of prohibited strategies long before it was ever found to occur in athletes.

So what exactly is gene doping, what are its consequences and dangers, and should you suspect your fellow competitors or admired elite athletes of being genetically enhanced anytime soon?


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