Professor Ronald Green Shares Opinion on Gene Manipulation and Athletics

Professor Ronald Green, director of Dartmouth’s Ethics Institute and author of Babies by Design: The Ethics of Genetic Choice, shared his views about gene doping at the “Future of Fairness” conference held March 22-23 at the University of Otago in New Zealand.  Leading American ethics specialist Professor Green believes that gene doping in sports is unfair.  The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) defines gene doping as the “nontherapeutic use of cells, genes, genetic elements, or modulation of gene expression, having the capacity to enhance performance.”  Basically, it involves inserting DNA as a way to improve athletic performance.

Will genetically-modified athletes bring about the end of elite sports?  Perhaps not, as tests to detect gene doping will be ready for the 2012 London Olympics.  Yet, gene doping is a huge issue because it raises several ethical uncertainties. In particular, where can the line be drawn as to what is “fair?”  Proponents of gene-altercation may argue that it puts athletes on the same playing field, enabling “fair” competition.  However, not only does this take away the excitement of the sport, but it is also impossible to define an “equal” playing field.  While athletes are currently finding outside sources (legally and illegally) to run faster, throw farther, and pedal harder, gene doping will become a more prominent issue facing the sports arena in the future. 

As Professor Green put it, “gene doping will very like further distort sport in the direction of ‘winning,’ and lead to the unsafe development of an athletic ‘GenNobility.’”  Perhaps Charlie Sheen’s axiom (“Duh! Winning!”) should not be taken so seriously.

Read more about it here.

Melanie Wilcox