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Gene Doping
Most people don’t confuse doping with therapy. Most people aren’t Friends of the Earth (FOE), an environmental NGO. FOE is praising a bill recently signed into law that bans “gene doping” in athletic competition. Gene doping refers to human genetic modifications intended to improve athletic performance.

FOE notes that many “observers believe that the next area of cheating in sports will come from gene doping” and that when researchers “found that removing a gene in mice that regulates muscle growth created mice that were twice as muscular as their siblings” they almost “immediately...began receiving requests from athletes, coaches, and trainers interested in athletic uses....”

While focusing on the issue of fair athletic competition, FOE also notes that “concerns about gene doping in sports parallel a larger debate about our human future and a new drive to promote experimental genetic technologies...” and that advocates “for public health, historians studying eugenics, environmentalists and others have long expressed concerns about the specter of gene doping and human genetic engineering. ... Already medical trials of gene therapy techniques have been haunted by unexpected illnesses and death. Out of thousands of patients who have received gene therapy, only a few have survived the treatment and have had their diseases treated.”

Winston can understand concerns about technology’s potential to reshape sporting competition. Winston also understands that there are legitimate medical and ethical issues regarding gene therapy. However, he does not want to see progress towards potential life-saving therapies slowed by tangential concerns such as athletic contests. By attempting to blur the boundaries between therapeutic treatment and unfair competition, FOE reveals their real agenda which appears to have little to do with sports and much to do with preventing the development of treatments for many disabling and deadly diseases.

See FOE Press Release

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