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    Brave New Sport Gene Analysis

    Can the athletes’ talent be quantified with gene analysis?

    Genetic testing of athletes is becoming easier and more common. However,

    sports scientists are warning that fixating on genetics is not desirable.

    Collecting the DNA of people is becoming increasingly easy. A new forensic technique even allows to gather and classify airborne DNA of animals (link), implying that the same could be done with human DNA in the future if desired. Moreover, a growing number of D2C-companies offer DNA sequencing, i.e., the analysis of DNA samples for consumers. Among sports organizations, too, genetic testing of athletes is likely to become more common with the advance of gene technology. As is the case with many cutting-edge technologies, there are potentials and risks applying for the world of sports equally as for society as a whole.

    Sports teams or parents may want to use genetic information to predict the future performance of young athletes, even though sports scientists have been warning that the predictive strength of gene-based performance forecasts should not be overestimated (link). In addition, tailored training programs could be developed for individual athletes to prevent specific injuries. In the future, it is even possible that genetic tests will be required as a countermeasure to gene editing as a doping strategy.

    Legal questions regarding the collection and sequencing of athletes’ DNA remain, too. While athletes and their bodies are increasingly commodified, the autonomy and genetic privacy of athletes need to be protected. In any case, sports organizations such as associations will need to manage the topic proactively and in collaborative ways across national borders with varying jurisdictions.

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