Gene-doping: Sport, values & bioethics

This paper problematises the ethics of genetic modification (GM) in sport by outlining the perspectives of four organisations which have recently spent time considering the subject: the International Olympic Committee, the World Anti-Doping Agency, the United States President’s Council on Bioethics, and the Australian Law Reforms Commission. The paper outlines scientific developments in genetic research, which might make realisable the genetic engineering of athletes. Subsequently, an overview of the varied perspectives of the four organisations is given, by articulating the moral discourses which is present through each. Various arguments are recognised as having importance in reaching a conclusion about whether GM in sport should be legal or not. In particular, these arguments comprise concerns about safety, fairness, and moral character. It is suggested that reflective bioethical investigations can assist the development of a coherent ethical policy about genetics in sport, by informing sports ethics with a rich basis of literature dealing with such central concepts as personhood, autonomy, and humanness. In conclusion, it is argued that sport ought not approach GM in a comparable manner to how it has approached doping, as GM entails a much wider breadth of ethical implications, often unrelated to sport.
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