Gene doping – results of the TAB gene doping project
On 12th March, the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB) presented the results of the “Gene Doping” project. Scientists are afraid that a number of new medical and pharmaceutical methods and technologies will be misused for the illegal improvement of sports performance.
Gene doping is a particularly explosive issue due to the perceived high potential for misuse and the fact that insufficient information is available on the topic. The Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB) has carried out an investigation into the medical-biological, legal and social aspects of gene doping.
Gene doping refers to the misuse of gene and cell therapeutic methods on the one hand and the misuse of methods for the specific manipulation of gene activity through highly specific drugs on the other hand. Future misuse might mainly focus on muscle growth and the improvement of oxygen and energy supply to the body.
“An important factor that might limit the application of gene doping is the ability to detect it,” said Dr. Katrin Gerlinger, head of the gene-doping project at the TAB. “There are many roads leading to gene doping,” says Professor Dr. Armin Grunwald, head of the TAB and the Institute for Technology Assessment and System Analysis at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. “As with conventional doping methods, we assume that gene doping will be mainly used by top sports people, but also by ambitious bodybuilders wishing to promote muscle growth, and – at a later stage – to restore muscle mass in the grey area between therapy, lifestyle and misuse.
The TAB sees four major pillars to a specific anti-gene doping strategy:
- continual observation of scientific trends and pharmaceutical developments relevant to gene doping that will act as an early warning system
- research and development in the field of detection, testing and control methods
- concretisation of banned doping methods and substances in order to clearly criminalise certain aspects
- education and information (establishing the prevention of gene doping as an autonomous activity in addition to doping control and sanction systems, taking into account all risk groups)
A document detailing the main results from the project is available online (see link in the top right hand corner).
Source: Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB) - 12.03.2008
Dr. Katrin Gerlinger
Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB)
Neue Schönhauser Str. 10
Tel.: +49 30 28491-108
Fax: +49 30 28491-119