Genetic research into athletic ability should be encouraged for its potential benefits in both sport and public health, a leading group of scientists meeting at the University of Bath said today.
However, ethical concerns, such as whether seeking information about differences between ethnic groups could be perceived as racist research, need to be properly addressed, they warn.
Their recommendations are published in a position stand on genetic research and testing launched at the British Association of Sport & Exercise Sciences annual meeting today.
They call for more genetic research in the sport and exercise sciences because of the anticipated benefits for public health, but want researchers to take a more active role in debating the implications of their work with the public.
If a powerful muscle growth gene was identified, on the one hand this could help develop training programmes that increase muscle size and strength in athletes, but even more importantly the knowledge could be used to develop exercise programmes or drugs to combat muscle wasting in old age, said Dr Alun Williams from Manchester Metropolitan University, one of the reports authors.
We, as scientists investigating genetics, acknowledge a public concern about some genetic research and we believe scientists need to engage in public in debates about the potential benefits of their research.
Research into the athletic success of East African distance runners or sprinters of West African ancestry might be perceived as unethical.
But understanding the limits of human exercise capacity in sport could lead to the development of treatments for a range of diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The potential applications of ge
|Contact: Andrew McLaughlin|
University of Bath