Performance drug using Biotechnology
Should not be banned from Sports
The debate over athletes’ using performance-enhancing substances is getting more complicated as biotechnology such as gene therapy becomes a reality. The availability of these new methods of boosting performance will force us to decide what we value most in sports displays of physical excellence developed through hard work or victory at all costs. For centuries, spectators and athletes have cherished the tradition of fairness in sports. While sports competition is, of course, largely about winning, it is also about the means by which a player or team wins. Athletes who use any type of biotechnology give themselves an unfair advantage and disrupt the sense of fair play, and they should be banned from competition.
Researchers are experimenting with techniques that could manipulate an athlete’s genetic code to build stronger muscles or increase endurance. Searching for cures for diseases like Parkinson’s and muscular dystrophy, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have created “Schwarzenegger mice,” rodents that grew larger than- normal muscles after receiving injections with a gene that stimulates growth protein. The researchers also found that a combination of gene manipulation and exercise led to a 35% increase in the strength of rats’ leg muscles.
Such therapies are breakthroughs for humans suffering from muscular diseases; for healthy athletes, they could mean new world records in sports involving speed and endurance but at what cost to the integrity of athletic competition? The International Olympic Committee’s World Anti-Doping Agency has become so alarmed about the possible effects of new gene technology on athletic competition that it has banned the use of gene therapies and urged researchers to devise a test for detecting genetic modification.
Some bioethicists argue that this next wave of performance enhancement is an acceptable and unavoidable feature of competition....