I was reading this article earlier… Gene doping: Sport’s biggest battle?.
It does raise some good points. I especially liked the last paragraph…
It seems, though, that the nature of gene doping will make drawing that line technically difficult and ethically awkward. The authorities, the athletes, the fans may need to agree a whole new definition of what we want sport to mean.
My thoughts are that, if one looks back over time, even without doping drugs, athletes have been using any science that could potentially enhance their performance to do just that. Synthetic vitamins and minerals, and/or isolated natural ones, added to a diet, for example, could be considered doping by some, but not by others. Some people freak out at the idea of taking vitamin & mineral supplements while others embrace them – should those that embrace them be excluded from any competitive endeavour partaken by those that eschew them just to level the playing field?
So where do we draw the line?
For example… people are already selecting babies from IVF embryos for different genetic traits… IVF baby born using revolutionary genetic-screening process, which begs the question (which the useless BBC journalism doesn’t even mention), should babies born from IVF genetic screening be allowed to compete in sports?
Some might think that this is taking things a little too far, but is it? What difference between gene doping and IVF gene selection? If you allow one then you have a huge ethical argument on your hands to allow the other. If you disallow one, likewise, the ethics would surely dictate that you disallow the other.
We’re entering into a new age for humanity. One where we have a choice to alter our genes or not. And also the choice to alter the genes of our children without their consent before they’re even born.
It seems a little disingenuous to be discussing whether or not to ban people from activities for genetically altering themselves of their own volition to achieve their own goal choices in life while we allow parents to make genetic choices for the unborn by disposing of embryos that have genes they don’t like while retaining the ones they do.
Personally, i’m a little in the middle. If my parents knew i was going to be born a boy they wouldn’t have had my embryo implanted. Likewise, if they knew i was going to be born disabled with a heart defect they wouldn’t have had my embryo implanted either. I wouldn’t exist in this brave new world of embryo gene selection – so i simply cannot agree that it should be allowed. How many people in history would have never been given a chance to life if this technology had been in existence 10,000 years ago? How many of you would not be here now because just one of your forebears was not selected for gestation?
As i say, i’m a little in the middle, because i do believe in the right for a person to alter their own genes. What anyone does to their own bodies is entirely up to them and is nothing whatsoever to do with anyone else. My body is my space in this universe – Nature gave it to me. Or if you believe in a god, then you can say that your god gave it to you. It’s yours, it’s sacrosanct that you are its spirit, its soul, and it is yours to do with what you will. So if you want to have gene therapy to alter any aspect of it, then you should be allowed to.
So going off on a little tangent here, i read a sci-fi book years ago (sorry, can’t remember the name but if it rings any bells with anyone, please let me know as i want to read it again) which had gene therapy and things in it. This was written long before any of this technology was ever thought of as reality.
In the book the whole gene therapy thing was spun into the body mod world. This is what i like most about it.
People were having big cat, dog and other mammalian tooth buds implanted into their gums replacing their human teeth.
The possibilities for body mods are incredible. Like i want to have woad blue skin – so i have a small injection that changes my DNA and my skin turns woad blue. I’d love vampire fangs, so they take my stem cells and add a bit of jaguar cat DNA to make tooth buds for all four canine teeth and implant them in my gums and a few months later i have beautiful fangs and i change my name to Akasha. 🙂
Or maybe i want to be completely hairless – quick injection. Or covered with hair like a tiger has – quick injection.
Fun fun fun!!!
So what happens to sport? To get back to the original point. I really don’t know. To be honest i don’t care about athletics. The only sports i watch are Formula 1 and MotoGP, and to be honest, i don’t care what drugs they’re on or what genetic alterations they’ve had, i just love watching people go around race tracks at 200mph+. These are both sports that embrace and push the boundaries of the cutting edges of technology, engineering and manufacturing techniques within the cars and bikes, and i just want to see those machines pushed to the edges of their abilities by anyone who can push them that far – however they wish to enhance themselves. Selfish little me!!! 🙂