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Scientists highlight benefits of genetic research in sport, but warn of ethical concerns
Date:9/13/2007

netic testing in sport and exercise also raise some ethical concerns, for example in identifying potential athletic ability before birth.

An Australian company already offers the first genetic performance test (for the ACTN3 gene) which has been linked to sprint and power performance.

The report authors are sceptical about whether this test is useful but anticipate that more advanced versions of these tests will be available in future.

We are not yet at a point where we can identify a potential future Olympic champion from genetic tests but we may not be very far away, said Dr Williams, who wrote the report with Drs Henning Wackerhage (Aberdeen University), Andy Miah (University of Paisley), Roger Harris (University of Chichester) and Hugh Montgomery (University College London).

They highlight two dangers of genetic performance tests. Firstly, genetic performance tests might later be linked to disease. For example, a muscle growth gene may later be linked to cancer growth.

Not all people may want to know, while young that they are at increased risk of cancer by early middle age, but they might inadvertently become aware of that just because they had a sport gene test, said Dr Williams.

Secondly, genetic performance tests can be performed even before birth and this may lead to the selection of foetuses or to abortions based on athletic potential.

The report recommends genetic counselling and that the testing should be confined to mature individuals who fully understand the relevant issues.

Genetic tests might also be used to screen for health risks during sport such as genes that are linked to sudden cardiac death.

Genetic tests for sudden cardiac death are already available but the report recommends that such testing should not be enforced on athletes.

Problems with mandatory testing are highlighted by the case of the basketball player Eddy Curry, who had an irregular he
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Contact: Andrew McLaughlin
a.mclaughlin@bath.ac.uk
44-012-253-86883
University of Bath
Source:Eurekalert

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