Diana Bowman, Andrew Maynard Walter Johnson, and Lucille Tournas co-released an article on gene-edited athletes this week. The article, appearing on Slate, discusses the new technologies that help athletes push boundaries and physical limits. The controversial CRISPR method has been employed to help design future athletes before they are even born. It is believed that within the next few years, children whose genomes have been altered could be born and feasibly be of age to compete in the 2040 Olympics.
Gene-editing technology is developing very quickly, with scientists fighting to test gene-editing in humans despite the global memoritorim put on such testing. Athletes trying to find a genetic edge from their opponents is not a new concept, with the 2008 Summer Olympics being an example. Shortly before the competition, a scientist known for gene therapy research was contacted multiple times a day from athletes who were going to compete. The technology was largely untested and could have been unsafe.
In 2018 China announced that they would use athletes’ genomes as a factor when considering their eligibility for the 2022 Winter Olympics. In order to avoid genetic cheating, the World Anti- Doping Agency introduced the ban on genetic doping in 2004. This ban may not apply to the future gene-edited athletes who had no say in their genetic modification before birth.
Read the article and learn more about genetic doping here.