Genetic Performance Enhancing GPEFirst name Last name
Gene doping. Many moral, legal, and emotional arguments have surrounded gene doping, also known as genetic enhancement, but is it really the “right thing” to do? There is no doubt that geneticists are seeing dramatic progress within genetic identification and research, but many people are fearful of that progress. Natural law suggests we should not tamper with the Creator’s plan. Others fear that genetic enhancement “limits children’s autonomy to shape their own destinies,” “perpetuates discrimination against the disabled and the ‘genetically unfit,’” and “will lead to vast social inequalities.”1 Still others within the sports realm argue that genetic enhancement is synonymous with performance enhancing drugs, and must be disallowed.
In actuality, genetic enhancement has the potential to serve many positive purposes. Genetic enhancement at the germ level could actually be used to cure diseases and prevent birth defects. These genetic enhancements would be transferred to each new generation, leading future generations to be free from diseases and disabling deformities, leading to both a higher quality of life, reduced stresses on an already burdened healthcare delivery system, and elimination of discrimination against the “disabled and ‘genetically unfit’.” Of course there are other extrinsic and intrinsic factors influencing health, but genetic enhancement would certainly impact health for future generations.
To suggest that hyperandrogenous athletes’ advantage is unfair because it diminishes the winning chances of athletes with less-favorable biological capital is to suggest that only athletes with so-called “normal” attributes can fairly compete against one another and that a completely fair competitive environment can be created. No blanket rule will ever account for the plethora of possible genetic advantages, and the degree to which they affect athletes, without unfairly disadvantaging those athletes whose situations are outside the bounds arbitrarily deemed acceptable by international sports federations.
Recognizing this impossibility, advantage can be accounted for within the framework of a sex spectrum on which biological differences exist and therefore can be expected, not regarded as unfair. This is not to suggest that anyone should be allowed to compete in any category. Nongenetically attained advantages, such as performance-enhancing drugs and certain types of athletic wear, should be regulated; there is a difference between genetically and artificially-engineered success.
The likelihood that medal winners will have some sort of genetically-conferred advantage is high, be it a long wingspan or high testosterone levels. It is counterintuitive to search for the most exceptional athletes in the world and then insist that they be anything but genetically exceptional. These athletes are not cheating; they are simply playing to their strengths, and ultimately, those strengths should not be grounds for discrimination.