Genetic Technology and Sport: Focus on Genotyping, Genetic Tests and Selection

On Friday 29th Septmber 2006 I attended a meeting at
UK sport, Chaired by Dr Andy Miah, on Geneotyping, Genetics and Selection in Sport. I had recently co-authored an article on this issue (Miah, A., and Rich, E (2006) Genetic Tests for Ability?: talent identification and the value of an open future, Sport Education and Society, 11, 3, pp 259 273).          
Invited Attendees: Dr Peter Fricker (Australian Institute of Sport)
Dr Wendy Hiscox (London)
Ms Alison Holloway (UK Sport)
Professor Barrie Houlihan (Loughborough)
Dr Andy Miah (Paisley)
Dr Yannis Pitsiladis (Glasgow)
Dr Emma Rich (Loughborough)
Professor Julian Savulescu (Oxford)
John Scott (Director of International Programs, UK Sport)
Dr Alun Williams (Manchester Metropolitan)
During this meeting, Dr Peter Fricker at the Australian Institute of Sport discussed the work that has taken place in
Australia in relation to this subject.  Since around 2001,
Australia has made considerable investments into studies that aim to identify ‘performance genes’ and it has spent extensive time discussing the legal and ethical implications of such research and the use of genetic information more broadly (Australian Law Reforms Commission, 2003) . This work provided the context for our conversations, which have become all the more pertinent given two important developments. First, WADA’s second landmark meeting on Gene Doping concluded with a specific statement about the appropriateness of identifying performance genes and using them within the talent selection process (see Appendix I). Second, the first commercial genetic test for performance had already been introduced to various countries (see Appendix II).This brief meeting discussed the ethics and policy implications of legislation surrounding the use of genetic tests for enhanced health characteristics. The majority of attention on genetic tests in the
UK has been limited to prenatal or pre-implantation testing, where the Human Genetics Commission explains the opportunities and dangers arising from the widespread use of such tests. The HGC and other organisations are generally dismissive of the need to consider selection for ‘enhancement’ purposes. Yet, it is unclear whether or how regulation will extend to postnatal testing for enhanced health.  The intention was to establish some conclusions and recommendations to inform this emerging debate.The meeting addressed the following questions: •    What are genetic tests for performance and how do they work? (Science)
•    What are the ethical implications of such tests, both in the administration of them and their effect on the ethics of sport? (Medical and Research Ethics; Sport Ethics)
•    What is the legal status of these tests and how would regulation function in the context of international sport? (International Medical and Sport Law/Policy)
•    Should genetic tests for performance be used as part of the talent identification/selection process in elite sport? (General Moral Philosophical)

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